EghtesadOnline: Wheat imports stood at 3.6 million tons worth $1.2 billion since the beginning of the current fiscal year on March 21, up until Nov. 6, registering a 60% rise in volume and 92% growth in value compared with the similar period of last year.
The grain, considered an essential good, is imported using subsidized foreign currency (at the rate of 42,000 rials per dollar), ISNA reported.
Also known as necessity goods, essential goods are products consumers will buy, regardless of changes in income levels.
Yazdan Seif, CEO of the Government Trade Corporation, affiliated with the Agriculture Ministry, said this year the government managed to buy only 4.53 million tons of wheat from local farmers as part of its guaranteed purchase plan, adding that this was due to an overall decline in production, which in turn resulted from low precipitation, water shortage and bad weather conditions.
“This left us with more than 8 million tons of deficit, since our annual domestic demand stands at 13 million tons. So the government set out to import the crop as soon as possible to be able to meet the local demand and fill the country’s strategic reserves,” he added.
Russia is Iran’s main wheat supplier, followed by Germany and some Eastern European countries.
Wheat imports began in April and around 8 million tons of the staple grain have been purchased from foreign sources, Seif said recently.
“More than 3 million tons of the purchased wheat have been imported so far and found its way to the local market. The remaining 5 million tons will gradually reach the country’s southern and northern ports to go through clearance procedures,” he was quoted as saying by ILNA.
Seif noted that this year’s need for wheat has been supplied and businesses, industries, bakeries and other consumers will have no problem in procuring the grain.
According to Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, the head of the Federation of Iranian Food Associations, global wheat prices have reached their highest in the past five years.
Grains in general have experienced a price rise of up to 80% at times. Russia, the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Germany and France are the world’s top wheat producers and Egypt, Iraq and China are the biggest importers.
Iran became Russia's largest grain importer, importing 3.7 million tons of grain in the current agricultural year (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022), according to analytical company Prozerno.
"For the first three months of the fiscal 2021-22, exports to Iran from Russia amounted to 3.697 million tons of grain, including 3.091 million tons of wheat, 392,600 tons of barley and 215,300 tons of corn. Thus, Iran reached first place not only among the importers of Russian wheat and corn, but also in the overall standings for all grain types," the statement said.
Experts estimate that Turkey purchased 3.523 million tons of Russian grain, including 2.87 million tons of wheat, 569,200 tons of barley and 73,100 tons of corn. Egypt came in third place with 1.69 million tons of wheat, TASS reported.
The Russian Agriculture Ministry reported earlier that grain exports in the 2021-22 agricultural year decreased by 21.3% and amounted to 13 million tons as of Oct. 14. At the same time, the volume of wheat exports for the season decreased by 18% and amounted to 11.1 million tons, barley by 34.9% to 1.5 million tons, corn by 56.5% to 0.2 million tons. According to the forecast of the Agriculture Ministry, for the current agricultural year, grain exports may amount to 45-48 million tons. Agricultural exports from Russia amounted to 48 million tons in 2020-21, including 38.4 million tons of wheat.
A total of 12 million tons of wheat are estimated to be produced in Iran in the current crop year (Sept. 2021-22), according to the head of Wheat Farmers National Foundation.
“So far, 80% of wheat cultivation on irrigated farms and 90% on rain-fed fields have been carried out and our estimates are that an overall of 6 million hectares will go under cultivation this crop year,” Ataollah Hashemi was also quoted as saying by the Young Journalists Club.
The official noted that water shortage restricts farmers from expanding the land dedicated to the cultivation of this staple grain.
“As we speak, fields that have undergone cultivation are now green and herald ample harvest,” he added.
Hashemi said that based on figures released by the Government Trading Corporation, a total of 5.5 million tons of the grain are estimated to be imported by the end of the current Iranian year on March 20, 2022, to fill the country’s strategic reserves and provide for the day-to-day domestic demand.