EghtesadOnline: A total of 2.2 million tons of rice are estimated to be produced in Iran during the current Iranian year (March 2021-22) to register a 13% decline compared with last year, according to the director general of Grains and Essential Goods Department of Agriculture Ministry.
“The fall in production results from the shortage of water and unfavorable weather experienced so far this year. Rice, being a water-intensive crop, is highly dependent on precipitation and other water resources. This year has been relatively dry and production has decreased. But we began the year with 660,000 tons of reserves from last year, so hopefully, there will be no trouble supplying the domestic demand,” Faramak Aziz-Karimi was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
The official noted that 90% of this year’s rice are cultivated in the three northern provinces.
“Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan are Iran’s rice cultivation hubs, but the grain is grown in 19 other provinces as well,” he said.
“At present, and based on the latest figures, domestic demand for rice stands at around 3 million tons per year.”
Per capita consumption of rice in Iran, according to the Health Ministry, stands at 36 kilograms compared with 67.9 kilograms in developing countries, 12.4 kilograms in developed countries and the global average of 56.9 kilograms, Otaghiranonline.ir reported.
Aziz-Karimi said there are currently more than 654,000 hectares of paddy fields across the country, 440,000 hectares of which are located in the three northern provinces.
Iran is the fourth largest importer of rice in the world with annual imports of 1.2 million tons worth $880 million, chiefly from India, according to a report by Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.
Considering the decline in production, more imports may be needed this year.
Drought has inflicted 670 trillion rials ($2.4 billion) in losses on Iran’s agriculture sector since the beginning of the current crop year.
According to Mohammad Mousavi, an official with Agriculture Ministry, assessments carried out over 11.2 million hectares of farmlands in 30 provinces show 43% of the total losses were due to the decline in production of agronomic crops, as well as 26% in horticultural products, 13% in fisheries and livestock, and 11% in forage crops.
“In addition, 4% of the total damage are to blame on challenges created in water transportation infrastructures, such as pools, pipes, aqueducts and springs, and 3% of losses can be attributed to water supply complications and the animal feed used by nomads,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
The water crisis in Iran has exacerbated to such an extent that agricultural officials have expressed concerns regarding rice farming even in northern Iran where precipitation levels are relatively higher. Iran is an arid country and the rise and fall in precipitation levels are a characteristic of arid regions.