EghtesadOnline: Iran exported 3.74 million tons of agricultural and food products worth $2.6 billion during the first half of the current fiscal year (March 20-Sept. 21).
The figures indicate a 25.65% and 12.75% 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, reaching $310.17 million during the six months.
Tomato was the second major agricultural export product in terms of value with $140.31 million, followed by watermelon with $126.78 million, tomato paste with $88.09 million and fresh and dried pistachio kernel with $82.45 million.
In terms of tonnage, watermelons topped the list with 568,370 tons, followed by tomatoes with 302,680 tons, potato with 270,540 tons, apples with 167,240 tons and melons with 127,940 tons.
Agronomical products accounted for 2.493 million tons worth $1.036 billion of total exports, up 15.37% in terms of tonnage and down 4.82% in terms of value year-on-year.
Horticultural exports stood at 791.61 tons worth $1.037 billion, up 75.5% and 43.17% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Exports of livestock and poultry products stood at 398.87 tons worth $409.26 million, up 27.99% in tonnage and down 2.28% in value YOY.
The veterinary sector exported 353 tons of products worth $3.65 million, up 233% and 261% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
The fisheries sector exported 48,630 tons worth $103.22 million, posting an increase of 4.12% and 23.7% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Exports from the forest and rangeland sector hit 9,550 tons worth $15.31 million, up 24.24% and 24.33% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Imports during the six-month period stood at 12.06 million tons worth $5.02 billion, indicating a year-on-year 3.78% jump in volume and a 23.04% fall in the collective value respectively.
Feed corn had the biggest share in total imports in terms of value with $1.202 billion, followed by wheat with $619.69 million, semi- and whole-milled rice with $487.63 million, soymeal with $275.71 million and raw sugar with $261.9 million.
In terms of tonnage, feed corn topped imports with 4.966 million tons, followed by wheat with 2.23 million tons, barley with 1.02 million tons, raw sugar with 716,990 tons and soymeal with 611,010 tons.
Agronomical products accounted for 11.5 million tons worth $4.11 billion of total imports, up 6.71% in tonnage and down 15.46% in value YOY.
Horticultural products stood at 468,040 tons worth $530.49 million, down 26.66% and 25.62% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Imports of livestock and poultry products hit 56,660 tons worth $249.28 million, down 68.79% and 70.53% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
The veterinary sector imported 733 tons worth $74.57 million, down 8.09% in tonnage and up 85.64% in value respectively YOY.
Imports by the fisheries sector amounted to 13,440 tons worth $28.15 million, up 4.3% in tonnage and down 19% in value respectively YOY.
Imports from the forest and rangeland sector totaled 20.53 tons worth $24.52 million, up 112.73% in tonnage and 1.09% in value YOY.
The export and import volumes suggest that Iran recorded an agrifood trade deficit of 8.32 million tons in tonnage and $2.41 billion in value during the first half of the current year.
Data released by the Agriculture Ministry show Iran exported 7.1 million tons of agricultural and food products worth over $5.82 billion in the last fiscal year that ended on March 19, 2020, to register a 2.34% rise in tonnage and 8.93% decline in value compared to the year before.
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 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 for long with water shortages, drought and extended dry seasons since most of their farms are rain-fed.
“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.
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 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.
Government’s Track Record
Expounding on the government's track record since President Hassan Rouhani first came to office in August 2013, Khavazi says 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 [in March 2021,” Khavazi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“When the administration of President Hassan Rouhani 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 shows a significant improvement in water efficiency. Moreover, farms equipped with modern irrigation systems increased from 1.2 million hectares to 2.4 million hectares and irrigation efficiency has increased from 35% to 45% over the course of the seven years.”
According to the minister, agronomical harvest stood at 83 million tons, and horticultural production at 24 million tons last year, which show a 22.06% and 50% increase respectively compared with 2013.
Livestock production increased to 16 million tons last year, showing a 384.84% upsurge over the period.
Milk production, he said, saw a 34.14% growth over the period under review to reach 11 million tons last year, adding that the government plans to maintain the figure in the current year and the year to come.
“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 one 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, he added, the government has provided 112,000 tractors and more than 10,000 combine harvesters.
Today, there are 18,500 hectares of greenhouse spread across the country while there were only 8,800 hectares of such facilities when Rouhani first took office.