As per recent information available, it has been reported that Iranian companies are looking to lease land in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania for large-scale food production to serve the local and export markets. According to Mr Hadi Farajvand, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Kenya stated that it is more than 10 Iranian companies who have expressed interest in growing and processing rice and other food grains such as corn and wheat in East Africa. It has also been revealed that the companies are willing to establish manufacturing plants in the region to attract the local market and to export these food grains to Iran. Further, the move is also aimed to narrow down the trade deficit with the Horn of African countries, which is in the Iran’s favor.
In this regard, furthermore, it has been narrated that the Iranian companies also want to lease land and to establish the processing plants in partnership with Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania for the production of rice, wheat and corn. According to the East African Community (EAC), it has been reported that they mainly exports unprocessed agricultural products like tea, coffee and meat to Iran and imports oil products, machinery and telecommunication equipments from the Middle Eastern country. According to local trade experts, it has been emphasized that in the beginning of this year the region should strive to export more processed goods to Iran. According to Mr Peter Kiguta, Director-general of Customs and Trade at the EAC has given a statement to the new agencies that the lifting of sanctions on Iran will pave the ways for EAC member states to forge closer ties with Iran, but we need to export value-added products if we are to tilt the balance of trade in our favor. It was also told that the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA) expects exports to Iran to grow five-fold in one year with the opening of the market.
As per sources, the Iran’s Agriculture Minister Mr Mahmoud Hojjati revealed that the government had envisioned investment on 500,000 hectares of farmland in a number of countries to produce food. In last August, Agriculture Ministry’s Mohammad Reza Shafeinia said that Iran had launched agricultural cultivation in Kazakhstan, marking its first farmland investment overseas. Water-intensive rice and corn crops as well as oilseeds have been cited by Agriculture Ministry officials as the target products which Iran seeks to grow on farmlands overseas. Mr Hojjati also said that Iran is pushing for development of 60,000 hectares of land to cultivate agricultural products in Brazil since food prices are a key driver of Iran’s double-digit inflation which shot over 40% under former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Moreover, food security is a serious matter for Iran, as with regard to the size of its population which has grown over 80 million and seen its food basket growing smaller and smaller.