Iranian customs administration (IRICA) figures show that rice imports into the country rose by nearly a third in volume terms in the six months to September 22 amid attempts by the government to control rising prices of the domestically grown rice.
IRICA spokesman Rouhollah Latifi said rice shipments arriving in the country in the first half of the current calendar year had risen by 33% compared to the previous similar period to reach a total of 714,773 metric tons.
Rice imports had also increased by 24% in value terms year on year in March-September to reach over $607 million, said Latifi.
The increase comes despite a seasonal ban imposed on rice imports into Iran from July to November.
Prices of the home-grown rice have been on the rise in Iran in recent weeks, prompting calls on the government to lift the four-month ban to help boost the supplies.
The price of high-quality rice grown in northern Iran has reached 570,000 rials ($2.07) for each kilogram of some top varieties.
That comes as rice imported from India, Pakistan and Thailand have much lower prices despite tariffs imposed on shipments and problems facing the importers to settle payments with foreign suppliers.
Reports on Saturday suggested that a new Iranian administration that came to office in August is willing to allow the use of funds blocked in India because of US sanctions for settlement of imports payments, including for rice shipments.
Rice importers have been pressing for such mechanism since 2019 when Iran came under US sanctions after Washington pulled out of a 2015 international deal on Iran’s nuclear program.