Economy, Business And Markets

Rice Import Ban Lifted Temporarily

Rice Import Ban Lifted TemporarilyRice Import Ban Lifted Temporarily

The Ministry of Agricultural Jihad has lifted a ban it had imposed on rice imports since October last year to protect domestic rice farmers during the production season.

As part of a decree issued by Agricultural Jihad Minister Mahmoud Hojjati in a statement, Iran’s customs officials will be allowed to register new orders for imports as of December 3 for three months.

This may be extended for another month but afterwards the ban will be reinstated, Mehr News Agency cited the statement, which was addressed to the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade on Sunday.

The statement comes after media reports led to an overexcitement in India, traditionally Iran’s biggest supplier of rice.

Bloomberg reported early November that such reports led to an increase in the value of stocks of Indian food companies. KRBL Ltd, a rice miller and exporter based at Noida, near New Delhi, climbed as much as 11.5%, Kohinoor Foods surged 20.5% and LT Foods increased 19.5% in Mumbai trading, on prospects of better earnings.

KRBL Ltd said rice farmers and mills in India are banking on Iran to end a two-year slump in prices, as basmati rice prices plunged more than 50% in the past two years after Iran cut purchases and Indian farmers boosted planting.

Indian basmati rice exports to Iran dropped 35% to 935,567 tons in 2014-15 and Saudi Arabia replaced it as the largest buyer.

“As a result of the lifting of ban, however, exports may climb 6.9% to about 1 million tons in the year through March,” said Anil Kumar Mittal, KRBL’s chairman.

Basmati rice, preferred over other varieties for its length, aroma, taste and texture after cooking, is mainly grown in India and Pakistan.

The temporary lifting of the ban, according to the minister’s statement, is aimed at meeting the deficit in domestic production.

Around 3 million tons of rice are consumed every year in Iran, 1.7 million tons of which have been met via domestic production in the current crop year.

Some 433,000 tons of rice were imported in the seven-month period from March to October, on orders placed before the ban.

The government has adopted supportive policies for rice cultivation in the northern regions, which account for the lion’s share of Iran’s rice production. There are reportedly 210,000 hectares of paddy fields in Mazandaran alone.