Economy, Domestic Economy

Wheat Self-Sufficiency on Target

Wheat Self-Sufficiency on TargetWheat Self-Sufficiency on Target

Iran aims to become self-sufficient in wheat by improving yields but will continue to import maize and barley, Iranian Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati said during a visit to Paris on Thursday.

Iran has been a major wheat importer in recent years, as the country aimed to guarantee local food supplies, although its needs have varied partly due to erratic domestic production, Reuters reported.

“Iranian annual wheat imports have fallen to 1.5 million tons in the current season, which runs to March, and the country hopes to become self-sufficient in wheat as soon as next year,” Hojjati told a Franco-Iranian business forum.

The country’s state grain buying agency, Government Trading Corporation, said earlier this month it was considering a 2-million-ton cut in its strategic wheat reserves to 3 million tons to save storage costs.

Hojjati, who did not mention the wheat stocks reduction plan, said domestic crops would benefit from efforts to improve irrigation and seed technology.

“Given the area devoted to wheat, our problem is more to do with yields,” he said. “We hope to be self-sufficient in wheat by raising yields. Faced with acute water problems, Iran’s government has a target to implement modern irrigation systems on 450,000 hectares of farmland.”

The minister further said Iran wants to develop ties with France as a leading producer of crop seeds.

Hojjati is part of a delegation accompanying President Hassan Rouhani to Paris, as the countries seek to revive economic ties following the lifting of trade sanctions against Iran.

Farming and food were a focus of a French delegation that visited Iran last September and Prime Minister Manuel Valls said agriculture would be among sectors covered by other agreements to be announced in Paris later on Thursday.

Hojjati also spoke of other deals to be signed soon, including a greenhouse farming project and a second fish farm project following a first one concluded last year.

Food products were not covered by western sanctions imposed on Iran, but payment and ocean shipping were complicated by the trade restrictions.