Domestic Economy

Gov’t Plans Self-Sufficiency in 8 Staple Crops

Gov’t Plans Self-Sufficiency  in 8 Staple CropsGov’t Plans Self-Sufficiency  in 8 Staple Crops

Achieving self-sufficiency in production of essential food has been one of the major objectives of Iranian agricultural policies since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 as part of its overall goal of reducing dependence on food imports.

This objective was reinforced through the “Resistance Economy” policy—outlined by the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to promote economic self-reliance—and the general policies of the sixth five-year economic development plan (2016-21).

To this end, the Ministry of Agricultural Jihad has formulated action plans for achieving self-sufficiency in the production of eight essential agricultural products, namely rice, barley, corn, pulses, wheat, sugarbeet, cotton and oilseeds, by 2025, Mehr News Agency reported.

> Rice

The government has employed a package of measures to encourage rice production, particularly in the water-rich northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran.

These plans include offering incentives to farmers for purchasing the seeds as well as implementing projects to increase the crop yield per unit area, said the managing director of the Agricultural Ministry's Grains and Staples Department, Kaveh Khaksar.

"Being a water-intensive crop, rice production is not feasible in other regions of Iran. Therefore, the government does not provide any support to rice farmers in other provinces, except Gilan and Mazandaran," he added.

> Barley

Iran aims to achieve 100% self-sufficiency in barley production by 2025. Barley consumption in Iran currently stands at 4.2 million tons per year. The country produced 2.65 million tons of barley last Iranian year, which ended March 2015, and is expected to produce 3 million tons in the current year, said Khaksar.

The area under barley cultivation in the country is around 1.65-1.7 million hectares. To increase barley production, the ministry plans to increase crop efficiency rather than expanding the area under cultivation.

"The average barley yield currently stands at about 3 tons per hectare, but it has the potential to reach up to 4-4.5 tons per hectare," said the expert.

> Corn

Corn seed is grown in around 175,000 hectares of land in Iran, while field corn varieties (used for cattle feed) are cultivated in over 230,000 hectares of land.

Corn seed production is expected to reach 1.4 million tons during the current year, while field corn production could hit 5.11 million tons during the period.

Under the self-sufficiency plan, the ministry plans to increase the total area under corn cultivation to 400,000 hectares.

Crop yield for corn seed is expected to increase to 8,250 kilograms per hectare from the current 7,400 kilograms per hectare while the yield for field corn varieties is set to grow from 51 tons per hectare to 60 tons per hectare.

Also, the ministry plans to reduce water consumption in corn production by gradually shifting away from a traditional irrigation system to more efficient systems of irrigation.

> Pulses

Pulses are major sources of proteins, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Per capita consumption in Iran currently stands at 9.2 kilograms, but is expected to rise to 9.5 kilograms over the next decade.

Iran is expected to produce about 780,000 tons of pulses in the current year. The self-sufficiency program aims to achieve 900,000 tons in pulse production per year by 2025.

Improving productivity through modernization of farming techniques, conducting research on suitable crop varieties and supporting farmers through insurance schemes are some of the government's programs to achieve this goal.

> Wheat

The government supports wheat production through buying wheat from farmers at guaranteed prices. The government purchased 2.05 million tons of wheat from farmers during the Iranian year 2012-13 and doubled this figure to 4.8 million tons in 2013-14.

Last year, the government purchased more than 6.7 million tons of wheat and plans to further increase this figure to 8 million tons in the current year, according to an advisor to the agriculture minister, Esmaeil Esfandyaripour.  

On the other hand, the government’s modernization policies encourage farmers to employ more mechanical and biological inputs, which have a favorable effect on wheat production.

"To this effect, this year the government has allocated 10 trillion rials ($295 million) in incentives to farmers for the purchase of modern farming and irrigation equipment. The government also intends to improve crop yield by providing 400,000 tons of modified and certified seeds to farmers across the country," said the official.

> Sugarbeet

Sugarbeet is a biannual crop. Currently, the spring crop covers about 93,000-97,000 hectares of land in Iran and yields about 3.6-4.25 million tons, while the autumn crop only covers about 4,800 hectares and yields 330,000 tons.

The agricultural self-sufficiency program aims at expanding the area under autumn planting to 60,000 hectares while keeping the area under spring planting unchanged, according to head of the ministry's Industrial Agriculture Department, Peyman Hesadi.

Crop efficiency is set to grow to 80 tons per hectare for autumn crops and 80 tons per hectare for spring crops, said the official.

Iran currently produces about 4.25 million tons of sugarbeet per year but is planning to more than double this figure to 9.7 million tons by 2025. "This would mean 90% self-sufficiency in sugarbeet production," said Hesadi.

> Cotton

Cotton is grown in 70,000 hectares of land across 17 provinces of Iran. This year, the country is expected to produce 150,000 tons of cotton boll and 50,000 tons of processed cotton.

Under the self-sufficiency plan, Iran aims at expanding the area under cotton cultivation to 100,000 hectares to produce 405,000 tons of cotton boll and 175,000 tons of processed cotton by 2025, said deputy director of the ministry's Oilseeds and Cotton Crops Department, Hassan Hosseinpour.

Yield per unit area is expected to increase from 2.2 tons per hectare to 3.6 tons per hectare, said the expert, adding that the new fast-growing varieties of cotton seeds distributed by the ministry mature in only 130 days, unlike the normal varieties that mature in 160-170 days.

> Oilseeds

Oilseeds are another item in the list of essential food for which Iran aims to achieve self-reliance. Agricultural Jihad Minister Mahmoud Hojjati says the ministry is pursuing various programs to increase production efficiency for oilseed and canola, in accordance with the latest scientific findings.