EghtesadOnline: A total of 550,000 hectares of farmlands are estimated to have gone under oilseed cultivation in the current crop year (Sept. 2020-21) to yield close to 900,000 tons of different oilseeds, registering a 50% year-on-year increase, according to director of the Agriculture Ministry’s “National Oilseed Project”.
“Based on the Agriculture Ministry’s plan and provided farmers are encouraged to go along with it, it is estimated that 600,000 tons of colza will be harvested from 350,000 hectares, 200,000 tons of soybeans from 100,000 hectares and 100,000 tons of other kinds of oilseeds [including sunflower, safflower and sesame] from 100,000 hectares of farms across the country,” Alireza Mohajer was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
The official added that this year, 10 oil extraction factories have signed memoranda of understanding with the Agriculture Ministry, based on which they can sign contracts with farmers directly to purchase their products via “contract-based cultivation”.
“The aforementioned factories have made contract-based cultivation deals with farmers for colza, soybean and sunflower seeds to be cultivated on over 200,000 hectares of farmlands. These firms will be providing the required seeds, fertilizers and pesticides that farmers need for this amount of cultivation.”
The official noted that the firms will also insure the farmers and train them on modern cultivation methods.
“The government has also set a guaranteed purchase price for oilseeds. Farmers can sell their products in the market at any price, but if for any reason there is a fall in prices in the market, the Government Trading Corporation will purchase their harvest at guaranteed prices,” he said.
Mohajer said the guaranteed price for each kilogram of colza for this year’s cultivation (to be harvested next year) is set at 78,000 rials ($0.26).
The provinces of Golestan in the north, Ardabil in the northwest and Khuzestan in southern Iran are top producers of colza oilseeds.
“The ministry plans to achieve 70% self-sufficiency in the production of oilseeds based on a 10-year program to keep imports of oilseeds and vegetable oil in check. The plan was launched in late 2015. Our oilseed production stood at 46,000 tons in the fiscal 2014-15,” Mohajer told Young Journalists Club.
He noted that due to the reimposition of US sanctions on Iran, the Agriculture Ministry plans to expedite efforts to reach the 70% goal.
Per capita vegetable oil consumption in Iran is about 18-19 kilograms a year while the global average is 12 kilograms.
Iran’s demand for unrefined vegetable oils stands at around 1.6 million tons per year.
A total of 810,000 tons of vegetable oil were produced in Iran during the first half of the current Iranian year (March 20-Sept. 21), showing a 15% decline compared with the similar period of last year, according to the secretary of Iran’s Vegetable Oil Industries Guild Union.
“Over the same period and due to the economic sanctions imposed on the country, which has caused complications in the way of money transfer as well as forex allocation problems, oilseed imports saw a 51% fall year-on-year,” Amirhoushang Birashk was also quoted as saying by IRIB News.
The official noted that 85% of the raw material for vegetable oil production are currently imported.
"The bulk of imports are palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, soybean oil from Argentina and sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia,” he was quoted as saying last year.
Most of the domestic demand for oils derived from colza, olives and corn is supplied locally.