EghtesadOnline: Iran exported 2.54 million tons of agricultural and food products worth $1.73 billion during the first four months of the current fiscal year (March 20-July 21).
The figures indicate a 19.75% and 6.14% rise in tonnage and value respectively compared with last year’s corresponding period, the Agriculture Ministry’s website reported.
Fresh and dried pistachio topped the list of exports in terms of value, as the country exported $198.14 million worth of it during the four-month period.
Tomato was the second major agricultural export product in terms of value with $135.27 million, followed by watermelon with $110.42 million, apple with $53.26 million, tomato paste with $49.56 million and potato with $30.61 million.
In terms of tonnage, watermelons topped the list with 499,050 tons, followed by tomatoes with 288,690 tons, potato with 153,430 tons, apples with 142,090 tons and melons with 109,020 tons.
Agronomical products accounted for 1.72 million tons worth $701.88 million of total exports, up 10.27% in terms of tonnage and down 7.76% in terms of value year-on-year.
Horticultural exports stood at 515,850 tons worth $660.12 million, up 66.05% and 28.84% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Exports of livestock and poultry products stood at 268,170 tons worth $289.82 million, up 23.98% in tonnage and down 1.58% in value YOY.
The veterinary sector exported 106 tons of products worth $535,000, up 65.71% in tonnage and down 38.14% in value YOY.
The fisheries sector exported 33,010 tons worth $70.38 million, posting an increase of 4.96% and 26.36% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Exports from the forest and rangeland sector hit 5,470 tons worth $8.78 million, up 6.26% and 25.19% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
According to Mehrdad Jamal Orangi, the deputy head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration for technical affairs, Iraq, China, Afghanistan, Russia and the UAE were the main export destinations of Iran's agrifood products during the period under review, Mehr News Agency reported.
The official noted that trade limitations caused by the spread of Covid-19 have not impeded Iran's agrifood exports.
28% Decline in Imports
Imports during the four-month period stood at 8.97 million tons worth $3.48 billion, indicating a 3.85% growth in tonnage but a 28.01% decrease in value year-on-year.
Feed corn had the biggest share in total imports in terms of value with $839.92 million, followed by wheat with $555.61 million, semi- and whole-milled rice with $319.35 million, soymeal with $239.65 million and raw sugar with $191.81 million.
In terms of tonnage, feed corn topped imports with 2.73 million tons, followed by wheat with 2 million tons, barley with 698,460 tons, raw sugar with 541,410 tons and soymeal with 533,220 tons.
Agronomical products accounted for 8.58 million tons worth $2.9 billion of total imports, up 6.29% in tonnage and down 20.79% in value respectively YOY.
Horticultural products stood at 333,260 tons worth $360.92 million, down 21.73% and 25.3% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Imports of livestock and poultry products hit 39,790 tons worth $172.7 million, down 68.97% and 72.57% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
The veterinary sector imported 133 tons worth $16.21 million, down 75.4% and 23.78% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Imports by the fisheries sector amounted to 6,550 tons worth $14.26 million, up 12.66% in tonnage and down 22.73% in value YOY.
Imports from the forest and rangeland sector totaled 11.370 tons worth $13.1 million, up 99.52% in tonnage and down 21.13% in value YOY.
The export and import volumes suggest that Iran recorded an agrifood trade deficit of 6.43 million tons in tonnage and $1.75 billion in value during the four months.
8% Share in GDP
The agriculture sector currently accounts for $40 billion or 8% of Iran's annual gross domestic product.
According to Agriculture Minister Kazem Khavazi, over 4.3 million farmers in Iran produce more than of 124 million tons of agricultural products per year on over 18.5 million hectares.
Agronomical products, he added, account for over 83.5 million tons of the total volume.
According to the minister, Iran possesses 14.3 million hectares of forests, 84 million hectares of pastures, 2.7 million hectares of woodland and 32.6 million hectares of deserts.
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 fiscal 2019-20, while the overall Iranian economy experienced a -7% contraction.
SCI noted that GDP shrank by -0.6%, excluding oil production.
The sectors of "industries and mines", and "services" saw a respective contraction of 14.7% and 0.3%.
The significant boost in agricultural production is largely because of abundant rainfall at the beginning of the year, which led to a higher yield.
“Agricultural yields are expected to improve by 3 million tons, thanks to the current good rainfall year,” says Esmaeil Esfandiyarpour, an official with the Agriculture Ministry.
Out of nearly 18 million hectares of Iran's farmlands, 12 million hectares are rain-fed. The impact of rainfalls is more significant in arid areas in the 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 has decreased by 5% compared with last year but improved 32% over the long-term average, the official has told the Persian-language daily Iran.
Farmers say the lushness of the rain-fed wheat produced this year is similar to crops grown in irrigated systems.
“Iran’s output of agricultural products is expected to reach 128 million tons by the end of the current fiscal year [March 2021],” says Shahrokh Shajari, director general of Agriculture Ministry's Export Promotion Bureau.
The novel coronavirus has caused 39,500 billion rials ($170 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 declared.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization says the coronavirus pandemic is impacting global food systems, disrupting regional agricultural value chains and posing risks to food security of households.
Large-scale lockdowns to contain the coronavirus outbreak have hurt the supply of manpower and disrupted supply chains in the agriculture sector.
However, according to Majlis Research Center, the production and supply chains of farmed and horticultural crops, as well as livestock, in Iran were less affected by the contagion, in view of the time when the outbreak began and the free movement of agricultural products in the country.