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Iranian rice importers urge lifting of seasonal ban amid dwindling supplies

Iran’s customs office and rice importers press for lifting of a seasonal ban as stocks keep dwindling.

Iran’s customs office IRICA has called on the government to dismantle a seasonal ban on imports of rice, a demand echoed by rice importers amid low supplies of the staple in the country which could cause a sharp increase in prices over the summer.

IRICA deputy chief Mehrdad Arvanaghi said in a Saturday letter addressed to Iran’s market regulator authorities that rice imports into Iran had declined by nearly 70 percent year on year in three months and a half passed since the start of the current calendar year in late March.

The letter said that total rice imports into Iran over the period had reached 86,367 metric tons worth $78.14 million, down from 277,691 tons worth 249.7 million imported between late March and early July 2020.

Arvanaghi said Iranian government authorities will need to reconsider a four-month ban on imports of rice that started June 22, warning that the domestic harvest this summer would suffer as a result of the current drought. The official said that existing rice supplies in IRICA storage houses were only around 52,000 tons.

Iran’s rice imports have declined significantly over the past year as the government no longer considers the staple in its list of state-subsidized food and medicine.

Iran imported more than 850,000 tons of rice, mostly from India, in the calendar year to late March 2020, according to Masih Keshavarz, who chairs the Iranian Rice Importers Association.

Keshavarz told the state TV’s news service on Saturday that Iran’s ministry of agriculture (MAJ) should move to dismantle the seasonal ban to prevent a sharp rise in rice prices over the summer.

He said Iranian rice importers had made prepayments to rice suppliers in countries in India in recent weeks only to cancel them later because they could have failed to make the deadline.

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