EghtesadOnline: Agriculture Minister Kazem Khavazi has expounded on the government's track record since President Hassan Rouhani began his first tenure in August 2013.
Agricultural production has increased from 97 million tons in 2013 to 125 million tons in the fiscal 2019-20 to register a 28.86% rise, according to the minister.
“It is estimated that the figure will reach 130 million tons by the end of the current Iranian year [March 2021],” Khavazi was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
The minister noted that the government recorded many achievements in the agriculture sector over the last seven years.
“When the Rouhani administration took office in August 2013, each cubic meter of water yielded around 920 grams of agricultural products. The figure presently stands at 1,450 grams, which show a significant improvement in water efficiency. Farms equipped with modern irrigation systems increased from 1.2 million hectares to 2.4 million hectares, and irrigation efficiency grew from 35% to 45% over the course of the seven years,” he said.
According to the minister, agronomical harvest reached 83 million tons and horticultural production stood at 24 million tons last year, which show a 22.06% and 50% increase respectively compared with 2013.
Khavazi said livestock production increased to 16 million tons last year, showing a 384% surge over the period.
“Milk production registered a 34.14% growth over the period under review to reach 11 million tons last year. The government plans to maintain the figure in the current year and the year to come,” he said.
“Seafood production experienced a 44.44% rise to stand at 1.3 million tons last year, from 900,000 tons in 2013. Estimates are that the figure will rise to 1.5 million tons by the end of the current year in March 2021. Shrimp production has increased from 12,000 tons to 46,000 tons and caviar production from 1 ton to 10 tons.”
Khavazi noted that last year, 13.7 million tons of wheat were produced in Iran while the figure stood at 9.3 million tons seven years ago.
“Honey production grew from 75,000 tons in 2013 to 112,000 tons last year to indicate a 49.33% rise. In the field of agro mechanization, the government has provided 112,000 tractors and more than 10,000 combine harvesters,” he added.
At present, 18,500 hectares of greenhouses are active across the country while there were only 8,800 hectares of such facilities when Rouhani first took office.
Kambiz Bazargan, a deputy agriculture minister and the head of Agriculture Research, Education and Extension Organization says certified seed production reached 426,000 tons last year while in 2013 some 330,000 tons of these seeds were domestically produced.
“Much work needs to be done in the field of vegetable oil production, as only 16% of our domestic demand are being met domestically. Though oilseed cultivation is supported in the country, the figure has only improved by 4% from 2013, when we met 12% of the domestic demand,” he said.
The official said per capita oil consumption in Iran stands at 19 kilograms, which is way above the global average of 12 kilograms, adding that this needs to be lowered by encouraging Iranians to consume healthier and less fatty foods.
Bazargan also said that last year, Iranian farmers went through 126 minutes of education and training on average, while in 2013 only 32 minutes of training was provided by the government.
3% in GDP Growth
Agriculture was Iran’s sole economic sector that saw growth in the last fiscal year.
According to the Statistical Center of Iran, the sector expanded by 3% during the period.
The significant boost in agricultural production owes largely to abundant rainfall at the beginning of the year, which led to increased yields.
“Ninety-five percent of food demand in Iran are met by domestic production,” said Mehdi Karimi Tafreshi, a board member of the House of Industry, Mine and Trade of Iran, adding that 130 million tons of food are produced by local companies annually.
“Unlike what most people think, it is the development and completion of the production chain that generates added value rather than the production of raw materials by mainstream industries. Statistics show food production constitutes over 10% of the added value of the industrial sector. Many of the industries are currently in recession, while a significant share of Iran's gross domestic product comes from food industries,” he was quoted as saying by ILNA.
“Given the slower pace of population growth and the decline in consumers’ buying power, the development of food industries would be contingent upon their presence in regional markets. Russia, Iraq and Oman are among Iran’s key destinations for food exports,” Tafreshi said.
Estimates put the overall turnover of food industries in Iran at around $100 billion.
“Iran’s food industry is the biggest in terms of employment, added value and job creation. Out of the country’s 13,000 industrial workshops, 2,500 are dedicated to food production and account for 16.8% of total employment,” he said.
Data released by the Agriculture Ministry show Iran exported 7.1 million tons of agricultural and food products worth $5.82 billion in the last fiscal year that ended on March 19, 2020, to register a 2.34% rise in tonnage and a 8.93% decline in value compared to the year before.
In-shell pistachio (fresh and dried) topped the list of exports in terms of value, as the country exported $724.2 million worth of the crop during the period.
Apple was the second major exported agricultural product in terms of value with $362.27 million followed by tomatoes with $259.21 million, unshelled pistachios with $240.58 million and watermelon with $175.97 million.
In term of tonnage, watermelons topped the list with 748,090 tons, followed by apples with 740,220 tons, tomatoes with 572,940 tons, potatoes with 480,440 tons, and onions and Persian shallot with 394,990 tons.
Horticultural products accounted for 1.95 million tons worth $2.72 billion of total exports, up 30.03% and 19.72% in tonnage and value respectively year-on-year.
Exports of agronomical products stood at 4.41 million tons worth $2.09 billion, down 5.2% and 20.42% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Exports of livestock and poultry products stood at 586,400 tons worth $718.87 million, down 7.01% and 34.05% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
The fisheries sector exported 126,590 tons worth $249.3 million, up 4.58% in tonnage and down 25.21% in value YOY.
Exports from the "forest and rangeland" sector hit 19,080 tons worth $31.2 million, down 29.45% and 46.19% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
The veterinary sector’s exports amounted to 350 tons worth $2.31 million, up 16.23% in tonnage and down 27.68% in value YOY.