TEHRAN: The ongoing seasonal ban on rice imports will be in effect until Nov. 21, Deputy Agriculture Minister Yazdan Seif said, noting that the ban started as of August. “Every year and during the rice harvest season, the government bans rice imports in support of local farmers and domestic production. Traders who have already made order registrations can import their cargos after the deadline. During the ban period, no imports will take place,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency. On Monday, the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration announced that rice importers have until Friday to clear their shipments from customs terminals.
The ban pertains to grain order registrations during the abovementioned period, meaning orders placed before the ban may be entitled to customs clearance past the deadline. Iranians consume 3 million tons of rice a year while domestic production stands at 2.2 million tons. Therefore, there is need for around 800,000 tons of imports every year. The Agriculture Ministry expects domestic rice production to increase by 10-15% in the current Iranian year (started March 21), because of favorable weather condition and timely distribution of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, machinery and equipment among local farmers. “We need imports, but imports that are limited and controlled,” Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati has been quoted as saying. Imports are made mainly from the UAE, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Iraq. The two northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran are home to a majority of Iran’s paddy fields. A total of 81% and 70% of rice harvest in the two provinces respectively were mechanized in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2017). According to the Central and West Asia Rice Center, with around 54% of Central and West Asia’s paddy fields located in Iran, the country accounts for 61% of the regions’ combined rice production.