TEHRAN – Over $1.4 billion has been supplied for the imports of unrefined vegetable oil and oilseeds in the first seven months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20-October 21), an official with the Industry, Mining, and Trade Ministry said.

According to Sadif Beikzadeh, this year, the government plans to allocate $1.5 billion for the imports of crude edible oil, in which 1.9 million tons of oil must be imported in order to regulate the domestic market for this product, IRNA reported.

Noting that part of the country’s oil demand is supplied from imported and domestically produced oilseeds, the official specified: “out of about three million tons of imported oilseeds, 18 percent will be converted into crude oil, which can meet part of the country’s needs.”

Iran produced 810,000 tons of vegetable oil during the first half of the current Iranian year (March 20-September 21), registering a 15-percent decline compared with the similar period of last year, according to the secretary of Iran’s Vegetable Oil Industries Guild Union.

“Over the same period and due to the economic sanctions imposed against the country, which has caused complications in the way of money transfer as well as forex allocation problems, oilseed imports saw a 51 percent fall year-on-year,” Amir Houshang Birashk was also quoted as saying by IRIB News.

The official noted that, at present, 85 percent of the raw material for the production of edible vegetable oil is imported.

Most of the domestic demand for vegetable oil derived from colza, olives, and corn is supplied locally.

The ministry plans to achieve 70 percent self-sufficiency in the production of oilseeds in a 10-year program to curb the import of oilseeds and vegetable oil.

Alireza Mohajer, director of Agriculture Ministry’s “National Oilseed Project”, told Mehr News Agency that the plan kicked off in late 2015.

Per capita vegetable oil consumption in Iran is about 18-19 kilograms a year while the global average is 12 kilograms.

Iran’s demand for unrefined vegetable oils stands at around 1.6 million tons per year.

EF/MA

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