Iran’s 2022 Wheat Production Rises 28% to 13 Million Tons
EghtesadOnline: Iran is among the world’s major producers of wheat, with the 2023 output forecast to remain the same as last year’s.
The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that 13 million tons of wheat were produced in Iran in 2022, over 28% more compared to 10.1 million tons in 2021.
The quarterly global Crop Prospects and Food Situation report’s forecast for 2023 production remains the same at 13 million tons.
Despite the solid rise in output, last year’s production was slightly below the five-year annual average of 13.2 million tons, the report added.
According to FAO, Iran is among the world’s major producers of wheat.
China is by far the world’s biggest producer with 134.8 million tons in terms of the five-year annual average production.
India, Russia, the US, Canada, Australia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Turkey and Argentina follow before Iran with estimated outputs of 105.6, 82.2, 48.7, 31.3, 27.4, 26, 25.6, 19.4 and 18.4 million tons respectively.
Kazakhstan with 13 million tons comes after Iran.
Notably, the report considers the European Union as one producer, which tops the list with the five-year annual average production of 138.6 million tons.
Global production of the grain was estimated at 794.6 million tons in 2022, up from 778 million tons in 2021. 2023 forecast and the five-year annual average global production were put at 784 and 764.3 million tons respectively.
GTC Registers Solid Rise in Purchases, Decline in Imports
The Government Trading Corporation of Iran says it has registered significant increase in buying wheat from local farmers in the current Iranian year (March 2022-23) which has in turn resulted in substantial decline in imports.
GTC, affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture, is in charge of ensuring adequate supply of basic goods, including wheat, rice, cooking oil, sugar and meat to the local market.
“Despite widespread drought across the country, [the volume of] guaranteed wheat purchases from farmers have reached 7.2 million tons this year following support policies such as 130% increase in prices and other incentives like 50% reduction in prices of agricultural inputs [provided by the government],” deputy minister of agriculture Saeed Raad was quoted by IRNA as saying earlier in January.
Considered a staple grain in Iran, wheat is purchased every crop year by the government at guaranteed prices from local farmers to build up its reserves and supply the market over time.
Raad noted that part of this year’s wheat purchases has been supplied to bakeries across the country for bread and the rest has been stored in silos for future reserves.
“Last year [March 2021-22], only 4.7 million tons of wheat were purchased from farmers,” he said.
According to the official, Iran moved to fill up its wheat reserves following global food security crisis due to drought and war in Ukraine.
Over the past nine months, 3.241 million tons of wheat have been imported, he noted, adding that the figure stood at 5.29 million ton during the corresponding period of last year.
Imports From Russia Halved
Earlier, Mehr News Agency reported that Iran imported a total of 1.8 million tons of wheat from Russia in 2022 to register 54.5% decline compared with 2021, adding that Iran was Russia’s third biggest buyer of the grain last year.
Turkey was the top importer of Russian wheat with 4 million tons of purchases, registering a 5.2% fall. Egypt was the second biggest with 3.5 million tons, registering a 12.6% rise compared with 2021. Saudi Arabia came after Iran with 1.5 million tons, registering a 119.2% rise. Fifth was Algeria with 1 million tons, up 270.3%.
Rise in Production
A total of 11.5 million tons of wheat were produced on over 4.9 million hectares of farms across Iran during the past crop year (September 2021-22), registering a 45% rise compared with the previous year, Sohrab Sohrabi, the head of Agriculture Ministry’s executive of “Wheat Project” said recently.
The official added that this crop year, wheat has been planted on over 1.58 million hectares of irrigated and 3.48 million hectares of rain-fed land so far and estimates are the overall figure will reach six million hectares.
Cultivation is currently in progress in Khuzestan, Fars, Bushehr, Ilam, Hormozgan, Kermanshah, north of Ardebil, Golestan, Mazandaran, Sistan-Baluchestan, Kerman, Yazd, and Isfahan provinces.
“We estimate that wheat harvest will yield more than 12 million tons this year and that the government will purchase around nine million tons of the sum.”
According to Sohrabi, domestic demand for wheat stands at 13.5 million tons per year. Some 10 million tons of the sum is used to supply bread, 2 million tons is used for industrial purposes (pasta, biscuit, pastry production), around 1.2 million is used for seeds and the remaining by villagers and nomads.
“Only 17% of the agricultural land across the world are under wheat cultivation, yet the figure in Iran stands at 50%,” he said, adding that Iranians get 40% of their daily energy from wheat on average, while the global share stands at 20%.
Iran has imported a total of 96.48 million tons of wheat worth more than $22.84 billion over the past 30 years, former spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration said recently.
The highest volume of imports was registered in the fiscal 2014-15 with 7.43 million tons, 2021-22 with 7.07 million tons and 2001-2 with 6.77 million tons, Rouhollah Latifi was also quoted as saying by ILNA.
He added that the lowest volume was registered in fiscal 2018-19 with only 360 tons.
Private Imports Allowed
The private sector has been allowed to place orders for wheat imports as of August 2020. The government agreed to take the measure after seven years of banning wheat imports by private traders, according to the head of the Agriculture and Food Processing Commission of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.
“In a meeting with first vice president [Mohammad Mokhber] around three months ago, we made our request for the private sector to be allowed in the field of wheat imports. Fortunately, our request was accepted and later the government’s Economic Council agreed to give us the permit. Now a directive allowing private businesses to import different types of wheat has been communicated to provinces across the country,” Kaveh Zargaran was also quoted as saying by the news portal of TCCIM.
The official noted that domestic wheat harvest annually ends in September, so imports of the grain cannot hurt local farmers at this time.
One of Mideast’s Biggest Storage Capacity
Iran’s wheat storage capacity currently stands at 21.41 million tons, making it one of the Middle East’s largest, according to the Government Trading Corporation.
The silos, located in 158 parts of the country, include metal, concrete and mechanized storages with a capacity of 18.01 million tons of wheat for long-term periods and simple semi-mechanized storages with a capacity of 3.4 million tons of the grain for short-term periods, IRNA reported.
GTC says Iran’s demand for wheat storage is close to 11 million tons per year, adding that the surplus capacity is used as a terminal for storing temporary imports and redistribution to regional countries, which create revenues and job opportunities for the country.