0738 GMT November 22, 2019
Many local wheat growers were unhappy with buying prices offered by the government this year, opting to sell their crop to intermediaries instead, Press TV reported.
“Last year, despite the severe drought, we were able to buy about one million ton of wheat more than the year before, but this year in some provinces farmers did not even sell us equivalent of their irrigated crop,” Hojjati said.
Much of Iran’s wheat cultivation depends on non-irrigated farming as the country is expanding dryland agriculture amid a lingering drought which is forcing it to use its water resources more economically.
Irrigated wheat covers only one-third of the total wheat area, thus the bulk of the crop depends on seasonal precipitation.
Most of the rain-fed wheat crop is concentrated in the northwest, but farmers in the region as well as in the country’s west sold very little new crop to the government this year, Hojjati said.
At the start of the year, state officials were expecting wheat harvest to be enough to make it self-sufficient in the strategic crop for the fourth year in a row. They believed better rainfall across Iran would offset the loss of crops from unprecedented flash flooding in some provinces in March.
Hojjati put the overall value of Iran’s agricultural products at $80 billion a year, more than $2 billion of which are exported.
“In value terms, dairy products with $250 million, vine crops with $233 million, pistachios with $178 million and fresh and processed tomatoes with $190 million have been the top hard-currency earners of the country,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Abdol-Mahdi Bakhshandeh said on Tuesday.