Tue Oct 6, 2015 10:49AM
For the first time, Iran will not import wheat this year.
For the first time, Iran will not import wheat this year.

European traders say Iran’s state grains agency has offered to barter about 200,000 metric tons of locally-produced durum wheat with 250,000 tons of milling wheat, a news agency says. 

For the first time, Iran will not import wheat this year due to satisfactory state purchases of the crop from local farmers and decent harvest, Deputy Agriculture Minister Ali Qanbari said in August.

Citing European traders, Reuters now says the Government Trading Corporation of Iran (GTC) is offering to barter eight 25,000-metric ton consignments of durum for at least 1.25 times the volume of milling wheat.

Traders must submit their offers to the GTC, but one dealer cast doubt on the proposal, predicting that any deal would be difficult with financial sanctions still in place against Iran.

Durum or macaroni wheat -- basically used for pasta-making -- is the hardest of all wheats, which is widely cultivated across the world.

In June, Qanbari said Iran would need 9 million metric tons of bread-making wheat and another 2 million metric tons for pasta-making in the current fiscal year.   

According to local media which provide regular updates on strategic buys from Iranian wheat growers, overall guaranteed purchases have surpassed 8 million metric tons this year. 

The government says it has bought more than 8 million metric tons of wheat from Iranian farmers this year.

Additionally, there are sufficiently good stocks for six months of supply from last year, Qanbari has said.

In July, the Iranian government slapped import duties on wheat and animal feed barely in order to discourage purchases from abroad but there are unconfirmed reports that those tariffs have been lifted. 

Earlier, European traders said ships were scheduled to make loadings of about 60,000 metric tons of wheat for Iran though overall demand from the country was expected to be very low this year.

One trader, quoted by Reuters, said the German shipment was purchased in August by a global trading house for private buyers.

The trader said the shipments are unusual but do not show a major return to the market by Iran, “more that purchases were not stopped totally by their import duty”.

Iran has turned into a wheat importer over the past decade as the country has seen its population grow to over 80 million and a lingering drought sharply reduce harvest.

A self-sufficiency drive for wheat production is on the rocks amid the drought, which is putting strains on the country’s water reserves.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Germany, Australia and Canada are the countries from which Iran usually buys wheat.