Iran’s wheat output may rise 5%, hit 14.5m tons

TEHRAN, Aug. 3 (MNA) – Iran’s wheat harvest may total about 14.5 million tons in 2013, up about 5 percent from the 13.8 million tons collected a year earlier, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

Total grain production may be 21.85 million tons, up 3.4 percent from a year earlier, including 3.2 million tons of barley and 2.4 million tons of rice, it added.

Iran’s wheat imports may drop by 67 percent this season amid ample stockpiles in the country and increasing production.

Wheat purchases may be about 2 million metric tons, compared with 6.1 million tons a year earlier, the FAO said, Bloomberg reported. 

Total imports of grain, including wheat, corn and rice, may “remain relatively high” at 9.4 million tons, according to the report. Outlook for lower imports is “mainly due to higher carryover stocks following large purchases in 2012.”

Still, Iran has made “large purchases” of grain in international markets since the marketing year began April 1, including 800,000 tons of wheat from Russia and the Baltic Sea region, the FAO said, citing reports from traders. 

“Iran’s state grain buyer continues to build its strategic stocks in light of concerns about domestic food security,” the FAO said.

The Central Bank of Iran allocated 70 trillion rials, equal to about $2.82 billion, for domestic wheat purchases in June, the FAO said. The country had purchased about 3 million tons of domestic wheat as of the end of this month, according to the report.

FAO is forecasting Iran’s wheat imports will fall to 1.5 million tons in 2013-14 from an estimated 4.7 million tons in the year through June, said Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist at the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization in June. The estimate for 2012-13 may be raised “a bit” on account of recent large purchases, he said.

“It’s not been a particularly bad year in terms of production,” Abbassian said in an interview at an industry conference in London. “Production is anywhere between 13 million and 15 million tons. They’re harvesting now.”

Iran’s wheat harvest has been within that range for the past two seasons, according to the FAO economist. Iran has invested in grain infrastructure and has sufficient storage capacity, with wheat stocks that may be as high as 5 million tons, Abbassian said.

“When it comes to food and especially wheat for bread, nobody would risk it,” Abbassian said. “The government will make sure that people get their wheat and rice.”
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