EghtesadOnline: A total of 137,000 tons of fresh tea leaves worth 7.6 trillion rials ($26.76 million) have been harvested in Iran during the current fiscal year that started on March 21, showing a 3% and 48% rise in weight and value respectively compared with last year, according to the head of Iran Tea Organization.
"A total of 31,000 tons of dried tea were produced from this year’s yields, which shows a 4% increase compared with last year’s production,” Habibollah Jahansaz was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
The government bought some 135,000 tons of this year’s harvest worth over 7.4 trillion rials ($26.21 million) as part of its guaranteed purchase plan and the remaining 2,000 tons were sold in the market, he added.
According to the official, last year’s harvest stood at 133,000 tons worth 5.13 trillion rials ($18.06 million).
Jahansaz noted that growth in production was mainly due to good weather conditions during the critical growth phases of tea shrubs, government support in granting cheap loans and rising guaranteed purchase prices.
Every year, the government buys strategic crops, including tea, wheat, sugarbeet, barley, cotton boll and oilseeds, from local farmers at guaranteed prices to control prices in the domestic market and fill its strategic reserves.
“A total of 5 million tons of tea are produced globally every year and Iran is currently the world’s 12th biggest cultivator. Iranian tea is among the finest across the globe and is cultivated pesticide-free. Therefore, no pollutants or chemical residue affecting its quality, health and taste,” he said.
Currently, Iran has 28,000 hectares of tea plantations, 22,000 hectares of which bear yields, according to Iran Tea Organization. More than 55,000 farmers earn their living through tea cultivation in Iran’s northern provinces and of Gilan and Mazandaran where the product is considered an economic strategic commodity.
Some 90% of Iran’s tea plantations are located in Gilan Province. Lahijan County in eastern Gilan is known as Iran’s tea production hub.
The crop undergoes three harvests a year: the spring harvest that starts in late April, the second in summer begins early June and the last one is in autumn and starts late September.
Iran's Tea Association puts the domestic demand for tea at 120,000 tons per year.
Yet, Jahansaz says the figure currently stands at 100,000 tons, around 30,000 tons of which are currently produced locally every year.
Iran mainly imports tea from India and Sir Lanka. Turkey, Germany, China, Japan, Vietnam, Kenya and Poland are other exporters of the product to the country.
Iran also exports tea and its main destinations are India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Canada, Australia, Spain, the Czech Republic and Georgia.