Covering Iranian economy,
business and current affairs.

Single Report

Iran's Agriculture and Animal Farming Market

July 15, 2017

Executive Summary

Over the centuries, agriculture has been the economic mainstay of different communities, serving as a source of revenue and employment. In developing countries, agriculture is still viewed as important and plays a crucial role in economic growth and development. Recent years have seen the emergence of fast-growing mutual dependence among world nations.
Although the pace of industrial growth is mind-boggling, the progress in the agriculture sector is nowhere as fast as industry. In international trade, the agriculture sector’s share of GDP is meager. This is particularly important for developing countries which can secure the inflow of foreign revenues in their transactions with other countries if they boost their agricultural sector.

In Iran’s case, because of sanctions, the picture is not rosy. Iran is home to 1 percent of the global population and occupies almost 1 percent of the world surface, but its trade accounts for less than 0.5 percent of global trade. Besides, only one-fourth of the trade in question has to do with non-oil products. Iran is a developing country whose population is growing. In order to meet its food needs, ensure social welfare, and create jobs, the country needs to strive on various economic fronts, including in agriculture.

As a source of food supply, the agriculture sector is of strategic importance to nations. Through production of highly advantageous products – depending on their climatic conditions and potential – nations have made profits in the global trade chain and have met the needs of their own people. In Iran, a country of 80 million with vast expanses of barren land, the need for agricultural produce and foodstuffs is being badly felt.

The latest figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad show that in the 12 months to March 20, 2017, Iran’s agricultural exports registered 21.77 percent growth in terms of weight over corresponding period the year before to reach 5.812 million tons. In terms of value the growth stood at 3.61 percent and the exports brought in $5.487 billion dollars. These exports had a 4.48 percent share of all exports in terms of weight and accounted for 12.97 percent of all non-oil exports in terms of value.

In 1395 (ended on March 20, 2017), the agricultural products’ share of Iran’s foreign trade was 20 percent when it came to imports and 4 percent as far as exports were concerned. Cereals accounted for more than 69 percent of all agricultural products Iran imported that year.

In Iran consumption of wheat, corn, barley, rice and soybean meal exceeds local production, compelling authorities to import these products. Wheat and corn have the highest share of imports. Despite policies designed to secure self-sufficiency, population growth and sanctions – which have seen the addition of more bread to the family basket – have resulted in a severe shortage, thus the imports.

On the exports front, horticultural products have the largest share (47 percent) with pistachios, dates, saffron, and an assortment of fruits topping the list. As far as weight is concerned, watermelons are the top export item (15 percent); but when it comes to value and bringing in the highest amount of revenues, pistachios are atop the list (22 percent). Overall, Iran is the top exporter of pistachios in the world.

When it comes to imports, corn tops the list in terms of both: weight (37 percent) and value (16 percent). Iran’s main trading partners as far as agricultural products are concerned are some neighboring countries such as the UAE and Turkey as well as China and India.

After cereals and horticultural products, dairy products, including milk, and meat are the most important agricultural products in Iran. Eggs and fish come next on the list. Iran is facing a shortage when it comes to red meat and sanctions have made things worse. Although measures have been taken to increase local production, the need for meat imports from countries such as Brazil is still felt.

When it comes to white meat, the self-sufficiency rate is above 100 percent and Iran is even exporting part of its products to neighboring countries. This has resulted in an increase in production as well as in the number of chicken farms. In milk production too, the country has attained self-sufficiency and exports of milk and some other dairy products are already on the agenda. However, the market does have the potential to import new dairy products such as butter and cheese.

Iran is projected to produce close to 170 million tons of foodstuffs in 2025. The production figure was no more than 90 million tons in 2015. This almost 100 percent increase is hoped to be achieved with sanctions no longer hobbling imports and exports. On the other hand, projections suggest the country will need to import cereals, especially wheat, corn, barley and soybean meal, at least through 2019. As far as rice is concerned, an increase in production has made self-sufficiency likely. When it comes to horticultural products, the current trend is expected to remain unchanged. An increase in the production of white meat, milk, and dairy products is expected to push up exports and bring in more revenues, as the need for imports of red meat declines.

Table of Contents
1    Notes    4
2    Introduction    5
3    A Review of the Role of Agriculture in Iran’s GDP    6
3.1    Livestock    8
3.1.1    Cattle raising    8
3.1.2    Chicken farming    9
3.2    Crop Farming    10
3.2.1    State of agricultural crops in the country based on individual products    10
3.2.2    Production volume    11
4    A Look at the Status of Iran’s Agriculture    12
5    Purchasing of some Agricultural Products by Government    16
6    Iran’s Agricultural Ranking    18
7    Status of Iran’s Agriculture Trade in the Year 1395    18
7.1    Breakdown of Exports of Agricultural Products    19
7.2    Breakdown of Imports of Agricultural Products    19
8    A Closer Look inside Each Agricultural Group    32
8.1    Cereals    32
8.1.1    Wheat    33
8.1.2    Barley    34
8.1.3    Corn    36
8.1.4    Rice    38
8.1.5    Soybean Meal    40
8.1.6    Sugar    42
8.2    Meat, Milk, and Dairy Products    43
8.2.1    Red meat    43
8.2.2    Chicken meat    45
8.2.3    Milk and dairy products    47
8.3    Horticultural Products    49
8.3.1    Exports of major horticultural products    49
8.3.2    Banana    50
8.3.3    Apple    52
8.3.4    Pistachio    54
8.3.5    Saffron    55
8.3.6    Dates    57
9    A Look at Historical and Statistical Perspective of Iran’s Agriculture    59
9.1    Some Other Major Export Items    59
9.2    Iranian Agricultural Production Cycle (from producers to consumers)    62
10    Strengths and weaknesses of Iran’s agriculture sector    63
10.1    Livestock and Poultry    64
10.2    Horticulture    64
10.3    Crop Farming    65
10.4    Fish    66
10.5    Other Products    67

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