0650 GMT January 16, 2021
At present, agricultural products constitute between 20 and 25 percent of Iran’s annual non-oil exports, said an MP.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Mohammad Rashidi, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s Agriculture, Water and Natural Resources Committee, suggested the current share of the domestic agriculture sector of the country’s yearly overseas sales must increase.
Given the country’s favorable capacities in the field of producing agricultural crops, the sector’s share of the annual non-oil exports must reach 50 percent.”
According to a report by the National Center for Strategic studies of Agriculture and Water of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA), the country exported 1,670 tons of agricultural products worth $889 million during the first two months of the current calendar year (March 20-May 20).
Exports of agricultural products in this period accounted for 11.5 percent and 20.7 percent, in terms of weight and value respectively, of Iran’s total non-oil exports in the same time span.
Describing agriculture sector as a major economic component in developed countries, Rashidi said while Iran is home to a diverse climate, fertile soil and valuable water resources, it has yet failed to improve the domestic agriculture sector’s performance by increasing the average harvest per hectare in the country.
This measure will help increase the domestic economy’s dependence on the sector, the lawmaker underlined.
For instance, he added, the Netherlands with an area equal to that of the two northern Iranian provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran together has managed to put in a brilliant performance in terms of the exports of agricultural products by increasing the average harvest per hectare in its farmlands.
While one third of the lands in the country are under water, the Netherlands’ annual revenues from the agriculture sector stand at $70 billion, the MP said.
Over the past decades, the Iranian economy has been highly dependent on crude oil exports, he noted, stressing that this has prevented the adoption of scientific approaches in the process of developing the domestic agriculture sector as well as efforts toward turning the sector into a source of income at a time when the country is under US unilateral sanctions.
Rashidi described food security as the most important component in any country’s security, expressing hope that the cruel sanctions imposed on Iran would provide the country with an opportunity to boost production in its non-oil sectors, such as the agriculture sector.
The imposition of nuclear sanctions against Iran began in the mid-1980s. The sanctions remained in place during the first two years of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s first term in office (2013-17). The sanctions had been imposed under UN Security Council resolutions 1737 (passed in 2006), 1747 (passed in 2007), 1803 (passed in 2008) and 1929 (passed in 2010), all in condemnation of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
During the tenure of the former US president, Barack Obama, new sanctions were imposed on Iran, mostly targeting legal entities. However, following the signing of the JCPOA and approval of Resolution 2231 on July 20, 2015, UN sanctions on Iran were lifted.
In May 2018, President Donald Trump, who had constantly criticized the Iran nuclear deal describing it as the “worst deal ever,” pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 in July 2015, and reimposed Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Tehran as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign against the country.
Mainly targeting Iran’s oil and banking sectors, the sanctions aimed to cripple the Iranian economy and bring the country back to the negotiating table, a plot which was foiled in the light of the Iranian people’s resistance.
Rashidi said an increase in the agriculture sector’s output can both help Iran achieve self-sufficiency in the production of certain crops highly needed domestically and reduce the country’s reliance on crude oil exports through generating additional revenue.
He regretted that at present, the sanctions have seriously harmed Iran’s exports, adding this comes as the drop in the value of the rial against other major foreign currencies under the sanctions provides a good opportunity for generating revenues through the overseas sales of agricultural crops.
Rashidi also said that the major destinations of Iran’s agricultural exports include neighboring as well as regional countries, listing them as the Persian Gulf littoral states, the Central Asian countries, Iraq and Afghanistan.
He added part of Iran’s agricultural exports are destined to Europe.