EghtesadOnline: Iran exported 1.67 million tons of agricultural and food products worth over $890 million during the first two months of the current fiscal year (March 20-May 20), the Agriculture Ministry reported.
The figures indicate a 19.44% rise in tonnage but an 8.79% decline in value compared with last year’s corresponding period, the data show.
Watermelon topped the list of exports in terms of value, as the country exported $90.1 million worth of the fruit during the two-month period.
Fresh and dried pistachio was the second major agricultural export product in terms of value with $65.86 million, followed by apple with $48.9 million, fresh potato with $26.39 million, watermelon with $24.51 million and melons with $24.34 million.
In term of tonnage, watermelons also topped the list with 413,200 tons, followed by tomatoes with 209,380 tons, fresh potato with 133,330 tons, apples with 130,670 tons and melons with 94,970 tons.
Agronomical products accounted for 1.18 million tons worth $419.67 million of total exports, up 10.41% in tonnage and down 15.6% in value year-on-year.
Horticultural exports stood at 328,860 tons worth $297.9 million, up 65.08% and 1.41% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Exports of livestock and poultry products stood at 138,760 tons worth $137.07 million, up 27.18% in tonnage and down 10.62% in value YOY.
The veterinary sector exported 51 tons worth $255,000, up 91.85% in tonnage and down 16.68% in value respectively YOY.
The fisheries sector exported 15,630 tons worth $30.52 million, up 4.86% and 11.04% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Exports from the forest and rangeland sector hit 2,800 tons worth $4.23 million, up 1.06% and 33.44% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
24% Decline in Import Value
Imports during the two-month period under review stood at 5.18 million tons worth $1.87 billion, indicating a 21.28% growth in tonnage and a 24% decrease in value year-on-year.
Wheat had the biggest share in total imports in terms of value with $482.98 million, followed by corn for livestock with $422.76 million, soymeal with $136.01 million, semi-polished and polished rice with $123.28 million and soybean with $110.47 million.
In terms of tonnage, livestock corn topped imports with 1.79 million tons, followed by wheat with 1.75 million tons, barley with 387,830 tons, soymeal with 342,250 tons and soybean with 249,860 tons.
Agronomical products accounted for 5.02 million tons worth $1.61 billion of total imports, up 24.70% in tonnage and down 12.95% in value respectively YOY.
Horticultural products stood at 138,240 tons worth $152.61 million, down 17.57% and 25.75% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Imports of livestock and poultry products hit 20,810 tons worth $91.09 million, down 73.39% and 77.64% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
The veterinary sector imported 54 tons worth $8.07 million, down 80.78% and 1.82% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Imports by the fisheries sector amounted to 2,250 tons worth $4.53 million, up 79.78% in tonnage and down 11.45% in value YOY.
Imports from the forest and rangeland sector totaled 2,790 tons worth $4.53 million, up 84.85% in tonnage and down 48.85% in value YOY.
The export and import volumes suggest that Iran recorded a trade deficit of 3.52 million tons in tonnage and $979.25 million in value during the two months in review.
More Than $195m in Losses Caused by Coronavirus
The novel coronavirus has caused 39,500 billion rials ($195 million) in losses to the consumption and export sectors of Iran’s food and agriculture, a recent report by the research arm of the Iranian Parliament suggests.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said the coronavirus pandemic is impacting global food systems, disrupting regional agricultural value chains and posing risks to household food security. Large-scale lockdowns to contain the coronavirus outbreak have hurt the supply of manpower and disrupted supply chains in the agriculture sector.
According Majlis Research Center, the production and supply chains of farmed and horticultural crops, as well as livestock, in Iran were less prone to the contagion in view of the ease of supplying agricultural products across the country.
Agriculture's Share in Iran’s GDP at 8%
The agriculture sector currently accounts for $40 billion or 8% of Iran's annual gross domestic product.
According to Agriculture Minister Kazem Khavazi, 4.3 million farmers produce a total of 124 million tons of agricultural products per year on more than 18.5 million hectares.
Agronomical products, the added, account for over 83.5 million tons of the total sum.
According to Khavazi, there are 14.3 million hectares of forests, 84 million hectares of pastures, 2.7 million hectares of woodland and 32.6 million hectares of deserts in Iran.
Sole Expanding Sector
Agriculture was the only sector that experienced growth in the last Iranian year (March 2019-20).
According to the Statistical Center of Iran, the sector expanded by 3% during the period.
The overall Iranian economy experienced a -7% contraction in the fiscal 2019-20.
According to the center, Iran’s GDP shrank by -0.6%, excluding oil production.
The sectors of industries and mines, as well as services saw respective contractions of 14.7% and 0.3%.
The significant boost in agricultural production owes largely to abundant rainfall at the beginning of the year, which led to increased yields of crops.
Abundant Rainfalls to Boost Yields by 3m Tons
Agricultural yields are expected to improve by 3 million tons, thanks to the good rainfall in the current fiscal year, says Esmaeel Esfandiyarpour, an Agriculture Ministry official.
Out of nearly 18 million hectares of Iran's farmlands, 12 million hectares are rain-fed. The impact of rainfalls is more significant in the arid areas of central, southern, eastern and southeastern regions struggling with water shortages, drought and extended dry seasons since most of their farms are rain-fed.
“Precipitation this year have decreased by 5% compared with last year but improved 32% over the long-term average,” Esfandiyarpour told the Persian-language daily Iran.
Farmers say the lushness of rain-fed wheat produced this year is similar to crops grown in irrigated systems.
Shahrokh Shajari, director general of the Ministry of Agriculture's Export Expansion Bureau, said Iran’s agricultural output is expected to reach 128 million tons by the end of the current fiscal year (March 2021).