By importing part of the domestic demand for wheat and rice, Iran can use the vital resource as potable water and for more economically beneficial activities, amid worsening water woes in the country, the rapporteur of the Majlis Energy Commission said.
Asadollah Qarehkhani also told Mehr News Agency that there is no need to cultivate water-intensive crops in areas where water shortage is acute and water evaporation levels are high such as in the southern Khuzestan, southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan and central Isfahan provinces.
Qarehkhani noted that Iran can import part of its need to give underground water resources some respite.
A record high of 14 million tons of wheat was domestically produced in the 2016-17 crop year to make Iran self-sufficient in the production of the staple crop. The self-sufficiency persisted last year (2017-18), though production was lower.
Iran only imports wheat for reexport purposes after it is processed.
As for rice, domestic production stands at about 2.2 million tons a year. This is while Iranians consume around 3 million tons of rice a year.
According to the Central and West Asia Rice Center, with around 54% of Central and West Asia’s paddy fields located in Iran, the country accounts for 61% of the regions’ combined rice production. The two northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran are home to a majority of Iran’s paddy fields.