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Iran hopes it can cut sugar imports with increased domestic output

Iran’s domestic sugar output would be enough to meet 70% of the country needs in the year to March.

An official at the Iranian agriculture ministry (MAJ) says domestic output of sugar would be enough to meet some 70% of the country’s demand for the produce in fiscal year to March 2020.

MAJ’s Sugar Beet Contractor Peyman Hessadi said on Saturday that Iran expects total output of sugar from beets to reach up to one million metric tons this calendar year.

Hessadi said that sugar production from cane will amount to up to 800,000 with better yields expected in the upcoming harvesting seasons.

Iranian government estimates suggest that domestic demand for sugar amounts 2.3 million tons per year. Same figures show that per capita sugar consumption in the country is 2 kilograms higher than a global average of 25 kilograms.

Local production of sugar started to decline from 2017, the year in which Iran had reported an all-time output record of 1.995 million tons.

Imports soared to 714,000 tons in the calendar year to March, up 154% against the previous year. A bulk of Iran’s sugar imports over the period came from India where government figures show that Iranian purchases had accounted for some 20% of the country’s total sugar exports in the 2019/20 season.

However, increased local production means Iran can cut its massive sugar imports bills, especially at a time it is facing financial problems settling payments with Indian merchants because of US sanctions.

Hessadi said that the MAJ has concrete plans to increase the rate of self-sufficiency for sugar to nearly 95% in 2025.

He said better purchasing prices and more government support for farmers could help further boost the output.

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