TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iranian Deputy Agriculture Minister Ali Akbar Mehrfard announced on Sunday that his country has signed a short-term MoU with Russia and Kyrgyzstan for imports of wheat.
"The MoU has been penned for transient imports, transit, and swap of wheat,” Mehrfard said.
"Wheat swap is expected to be done but the details have not been clarified yet,” he added.
"Regarding the capacity of domestic flour factories are two times more than domestic wheat consumption, the imported volume will be consumed for flour production, which would bring benefits for the country,” the official explained.
The government’s wheat purchases from local farmers have declined by 3 million tons this year, which will be imported to replenish its strategic reserves.
"The decline in purchases does not indicate a decline in production. There is good evidence that farmers have stored the wheat they didn’t sell to the government. Yet, the decision [to import wheat] has been made since the government wants to ensure there is enough bread to meet domestic demand. If farmers deliver their stored wheat to state purchase centers, the need for imports will be eliminated,” Aliqoli Imani, the deputy head of the National Wheat Farmers Empowerment Foundation, said a few days ago.
He said that the government will need around 80 trillion rials ($709 million) to import this volume of wheat and suggested that this money can be used to make domestic purchases instead.
"This way, local farmers will benefit and the sum put away for imports can be used for domestic production,” he said.
Iran has been self-sufficient in supplying its domestic demand for wheat since 2016.
A record high of 14 million tons of wheat was domestically produced in 2016, more than 11.76 million tons of which worth over $4 billion were purchased by the government from local farmers at guaranteed prices.
In mid-June, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak announced that "Russia could resume wheat exports to Iran soon.”