Economy, Domestic Economy

Iran’s Leading Agricultural Products, Partners

Iran’s Leading Agricultural Products, PartnersIran’s Leading Agricultural Products, Partners

Iran’s agricultural trade was worth $18.6 billion in the last Iranian year (ended March 2015), with imports accounting for close to $12 billion of this figure, the Ministry of Agriculture data show.

Iraq is Iran’s top agricultural export destination, followed by the UAE, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan. Major exports include pistachio, watermelon, apples, tomatoes, potatoes, saffron and dates.

This is while the UAE was the main importer followed by India, Pakistan, Switzerland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Britain and Russia.

Iran’s main imports are wheat, rice, corn feed, soybean oil, canola and sunflower seeds, sugar, cotton, tea and bananas.

Pistachio is one of Iran’s most profitable exports, as more than 170,000 tons worth $1.5 billion were exported to 45 countries last year, making Iran the world’s largest pistachio exporter.

The main destinations for Iran’s pistachios are Hong Kong, Vietnam, the UAE and Turkey. Other minor customers include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt.

Iraq is the main buyer of Iranian watermelon as it imported more than 589,000 tons worth over $138 million last year, accounting for the lion’s share of the total 833,000 tons of watermelon exports worth $193 million.

The UAE, Turkey, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Russia and Oman are other notable destinations for Iranian watermelons. Other smaller markets included Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Close to 392,000 tons of potatoes valued at $148 million were exported during the same period. Turkmenistan was the top importer, having purchased 136,000 tons worth $54 million. Iraq, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan ranked second to fourth in a descending order. Iranian potatoes also found their way to the UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.

The imposition of sanctions against Iran dealt a heavy blow to Iran’s saffron exports, as the country lost two of its main customers Italy and Spain. The two European countries used to account for more than 55% of Iran’s saffron market.

The restrictions forced Iran to move toward Central Asian and Southeast Asian countries. Iran exported close to 170 tons of saffron worth about $300 million last year. The UAE accounted for the bulk of saffron exports, as it purchased 69 tons worth $106 million.

Saffron import is a lucrative business for the UAE, as the southern neighbor packages and reexports this precious commodity with high profits.

As for imports, wheat is Iran’s main imported agricultural product. The UAE was the main exporter with 900,000 tons.

In fact, the Arab country acts as middleman, repackaging and reexporting other countries’ agricultural produce.

Rice is Iran’s second main imported agro produce, as 1.87 million tons were imported last year. India and Pakistan account for more than 95% of this figure.

Close to 6 million tons of corn feed were imported in the same period, with Switzerland accounting for 2.3 million tons of this figure. The Netherlands, Britain and the UAE were other major exporters.

Finally, about 468,000 tons of bananas were imported, with the UAE accounting for 338,000 tons of this figure. India, Switzerland and Brazil also exported banana to Iran last year.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Mandarins, Chilean grapes, Chinese garlic, Egyptian oranges, Turkish squash, avocado and chestnuts are the main fruits smuggled into Iran in large quantities, according to the chairman of Fruits and Vegetable Vendors Union, Hossein Mohajerani.

It is about five years that the Ministry of Agriculture has banned the import of all fruits, except for bananas, pineapples and mangos, to protect domestic farmers and producers.