Rice Imports increase dramatically in Iran

21 Feb 2014

Rice is the staple diet in Iran and therefore one of the country’s most important commodities.  Due to highly diverse soil and climatic conditions they are unable to cultivate all the country’s domestic requirements. Statistics released earlier this week have shown that the amount of rice imported into the country continues to rise. In turn the largest exporter – India has had to raise its prices due to the increased demand.

Import increase by 140%

It has been estimated that in the second quarter of 2013 Iran imported over $600 million worth of rice. This is an increase of 140% in the same quarter in 2012. The main exporters to Iran were India, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. 

More recently however India has had a special deal with Iran. In order to get around the sanctions from the US and the European community (due to Iran’s nuclear programme) the two countries exchange commodities. For instance, the Iranians exchange their oil for Indian commodities such as rice soymeal and pharmaceuticals. The demand for the rice though has been very high and this has subsequently led to the price of premier Indian Basmati rice rise to an all-time high. The deal itself is of concern to Western states.

India is the biggest exporter of rice in the world

Iran accounts for about one-third of India's basmati rice shipments in volume terms, while basmati rice accounts for about 20% of India's total rice exports in value. Forecasts estimate that India's Basmati rice exports this financial year may grow by 6.5% to around 3.2 million tons. These figures clearly show that India is very much in line to remain the world’s top rice exporter.

New moves for self-sufficiency

The director of the Iranian Rice Producers Association, Jamil Alizadeh Shayeq has stated that the domestic requirement for imported rice in Iran is approximately 500,000 tons and was concerned that importing such high quantities will cause issues in the economic market. Last year 537,000 tons were imported which was a staggering 93% increase on the previous year.  There are future plans that Iran is attempting to cultivate most of its rice sources at home and hopefully aim for self-sufficiency.

The annual rice consumption in Iran has been estimated at 2.8 million. The amount of rice that is cultivated in the country is 2.4 million. Therefore experts are looking at the country becoming self-sufficient in 3 years’ time.


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