Iran expects bumper wheat crop this year
Iran expects to harvest more than 11 million tonnes of wheat in the new crop year, helping bring down imports by 20%, Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati says.
Estimates of a better yield come despite strains on Iran’s water resources and Hojjati sees wheat imports fall below 2 million tonnes in the current Iranian crop year which began on March 21.
Government’s guaranteed purchases from Iranian wheat growers are estimated to reach 8 million tonnes, a growth of one million tonne from the year before, the minister said.
“The negative balance in wheat imports will decline this year, falling from 2.5 million tonnes last year to 1.5-2.0 million tonnes,” he said.
Harvest in Iran’s tropical south usually begins around July, but the government has already procured 10,000 tonnes of wheat from farmers, Hojjati told IRNA.
Iran is one of the world’s biggest importers of milling wheat. The country experienced a short period of self-sufficiency a couple of years ago, but reclined back to its old trend in the face of a protracted drought.
Hojjati says the country’s strategic wheat reserves have been bolstered after seeing stocks run down to suffice for less than one month last year.
“Currently, the reserves are sufficient for more than six months of consumption,” he added.
Iran is facing a chronic water shortage amid years of drought which has depleted groundwater reserves and parched many rivers and lakes.
The government, Hojjati says, plans to shrink wheat farms by 900,000 hectares over a period of 10 years and dedicate them to canola harvest which is less water intensive.