EghtesadOnline: A total of 3 million tons of agrifood products worth $2 billion were exported from Iran during the first five months of the current Iranian year (March 20-Aug. 21) to register a respective rise of 22.5% and 10.05% in tonnage and value compared with the similar period of last year.
According to Mehrdad Jamal Oranqi, the deputy head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration for technical affairs, the main exported products during the period were pistachio, tomatoes and tomato paste, watermelons, cheese, biscuits, pastry and chocolate, Fars News Agency reported.
Iraq, Afghanistan, the UAE, Russia, Pakistan, China, Turkey, Germany, Hong Kong and India were the main export destinations.
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 124 million tons of agricultural products per year on more than 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 year, 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 Agriculture Ministry.
Out of nearly 18 million hectares of Iranian 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 that had been struggling with water shortages, drought and extended dry seasons since most of their farms are rain-fed.
Farmers say the lushness of the rain-fed wheat produced this year is similar to crops grown in irrigation 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 ($165 million) in losses to Iran’s food consumption and export sectors, 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 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.
However, according to 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 time of outbreak and the freedom of movement of agricultural products in the country.