EghtesadOnline: The Cabinet has amended the regulation based on which rice cultivation was to be restricted to the two northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran.
As per the new regulation, Khuzestan Province can also engage in the activity under certain conditions.
Provided there is adequate surface water resources and upon the approval of the Water and Electricity Organization and the Adaptability to Water Shortage Taskforce of Khuzestan, rice can be cultivated in certain areas of the province, Mehr News Agency reported.
Based on the regulation ratified last week, the approval of the aforementioned bodies has to be renewed every year, based on the amount of water resources available.
The restrictions were first proposed in the summer of 2018 by the Committee for Adaptability to Water Shortage. It was approved by the Cabinet and conveyed to provinces for implementation in June 2019.
“Rice cultivation will first be restricted for three years, as farmers will receive no facilities or support from the government in provinces other than Gilan and Mazandaran during this period,” Jamil Alizadeh Shayeq, the head of Iran Rice Association, was quoted as saying at the time by Young Journalists Club.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Alimorad Akbari said last year the Agriculture Ministry will introduce alternative crops for cultivation in other provinces instead of rice, the abidance by which will be obligatory, Mehr News Agency reported.
The measure, he explained, was being undertaken because of water shortage facing the country.
Agricultural and environment experts have been urging the government for years to restrict rice farming to water-rich provinces and to ban its cultivation in the rest of the country.
Since last year, however, there has been abundant rainfall that gave a major boost to yields.
A total of 2.9 million tons of rice were produced in the country during the last Iranian year (March 2019-20), registering a 45% increase compared with the previous year, according to the director general of the Agriculture Ministry’s Grains and Essential Goods Bureau.
“This increase in rice output owes to the favorable weather and heavy precipitations during February and March of 2019, due to which land under rice cultivation increased by 38% to reach 834,000 hectares,” Faranak Aziz-Karimi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Latest figures released by the Statistical Center of Iran show per capita rice consumption in the country stands at 35 kilograms.
The northern Gilan and Mazandaran provinces together account for 71% of Iran’s rice production, according to figures released in a recent report published by the Statistical Center of Iran.
The government has recently decided to no longer allocate subsidized foreign currency at the rate of 42,000 rials per US dollar for rice import.