Iran exported nearly US$3.9 billion worth of agrifood products in the nine months to December 21, according to figures provided by a senior official at the country’s agriculture ministry (MAJ), as the government goes ahead with plans to encourage more activity in the sector to boost both jobs and to gain better access to hard currency.
Mohammad Ghorbani, MAJ’s deputy for planning and economy, said on Sunday that agrifood exports from Iran had reached 6.263 million metric tons in volume terms in the March-December period.
Pistachio was Iran’s best selling agrifood product in overseas markets over the period with nearly $739 million worth of exports, said Ghorbani, adding that tomato shipments had increased to reach nearly $289 million while watermelon exports rose to nearly $186 million.
He said Iran had also sold over $185 million worth of dates and over $169 million worth of apples in the nine months to late December.
The official said that livestock and poultry exports from Iran had also increased to hit $406 million over the same period.
Iran has reported consecutive periods of growth in its agriculture sector in recent years as farmers have been encouraged by rising overseas shipments and increasing government support.
Experts say rising agrifood exports is a byproduct of American sanctions on Iran’s crude oil exports as the bans have forced the government to rely more on domestic resources including on agriculture.
MAJ figures show Iran’s total agriculture output rose steadily in the calendar year to late March 2021 to reach a total of 133 million tons.
That comes as output was just over 90 million tons in 2013 when the country launched a campaign to boost activity in the agriculture sector.