Iran has been identified as the most significant market for rice in west and central Asia, it is the largest consumer, producer and importer of rice. As per the USDA, in 2012 it has been declared that Iran consumes much more rice then countries like Nepal, Malaysia and Sri Lanka with consumption rate of around 3.3 million metric tons (MT), while it only produced over 1.5 million MT and hence imported about 1.7 million MT to suffice the demand. With this high consumption rate, Iran has become the third largest importer of Basmati rice after China and Nigeria. The importance of Iranian rice market was realized in 2008 when price fluctuations were felt during rice crisis.
Rice is the third most important staple food of Iran after wheat and Barley and the reason for this is the natural diversity. Due to scarcity of water rice cultivation may not be suitable but it has some fertile regions such as north and northeast of the country’s Capital which are located on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The province which contribute to 85% OF PRODUCTION ARE Gilan,Mazandaran and Golesta. With the increase in the consumption, the Iranian government has aiming for self-sufficiency. This has strengthened due to international trade sanctions of the country faces. Rice trade has been affected in past as some international companies prefer not to pursue business in order not to affect their business operations in US and EU markets. Thus there is major motivation to boost domestic production.
Iranian rice search has been supported by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) from over past 35 years and has contributed in increasing the average yield by double digit, but still Iran faces a major challenge such as soil salinity, heat stress, soil erosion, flooding and desertification. With current rate of import dependency it is projected that there will be rise to 5 million MT by 2035 and hence achieving self-sufficiency is very important for Iran. In order to bring in this green revolution, Iran has increased investment rates in agricultural research and Tehran has been identified as the headquarters of the Regional Rice Research and Training Centre for West and Central Asia (RRRTC-WCA). Iran also plans to establish a regional climate change research facility to study the impact of climate on rice production.