Nearly 70 million people in Iran cannot afford rice following price increases, according to the secretary of the Rice Importers Association, which is terrible for nutrition because nothing is taking its place.
This is the case for 67 million Iranians in the middle, working, and impoverished classes, according to the state-run Shahrvand Online website, which did not mention that 80% of Iranians live below the poverty line.
In an interview with Shahrvand Online on Monday, the secretary said: “At a time that the price of protein products such as meat, poultry, and eggs is also not good, the reduction of rice consumption is not good at all. Climate changes and the possible decline in the current year can render conditions worse than they already are, and with rice becoming even more expensive, it might disappear from the people’s diet at an even faster rate.”
And Donya-e-Eghtesad on May 5, 2021, wrote: “Rice prices have risen in recent weeks. As field studies show, one of the main reasons for this increase in the market is the deposition of 100,000 tons of this product in the country’s ports and customs. This price fluctuation has mostly affected Iranian rice, which has no result other than the shrink of the people’s table. Due to the lack of supply, Iranian rice has undergone changes that have nothing to do with household income.”
It is easy predictable that in the ocean of Iran’s government’s corruption everything is possible as the state-run news agency ISNA said about the reason of this event: “Rice sellers conspire to store rice and do not sell it to increase its price, which must be dealt with.” (ISNA, April 19, 2021)
But the truth is that in a corrupted government nothing is dealt with.
How much has rice gone up?
Well, foreign rice, which is popular amongst the middle and working classes because it is cheaper than Iranian rice, used to be 80,000 rials per kilogram, compared with 260,000-300,000 rials per kilogram for Iranian rice, according to the RIA secretary.
The state-run Eghtesad News website, also publishing on Monday, which has these costs listed as an average of 103,000 rials per kilogram for foreign rice and 239,000 rials per kilogram for Iranian rice, explained that foreign rice now costs 245,000 rials per kilogram, which is a 137% increase compared to this time last year, while the cost of Iranian rice increased to 354,000 rials per kilogram. The outlet said that sometimes the cost of rice is as much as 435,000 rials per kilogram.
The increase in price is partly down to the pandemic’s knock-on effect on the economy but more widely is related to Tehran’s failed economic policies that have increased inflation and tanked the rial’s value.
The Iranian Resistance wrote: “This large price increase happens at a time that most of the Iranian population is already living under the poverty line and are struggling to procure their most basic needs. The poverty line for many areas of the country has surpassed 10 million rials per month. Meanwhile, many worker families earn no more than 2.5 million rials and are hard-pressed to put food on their families’ tables.”
The dire and falling economic conditions resulted in protests in various cities across the country by many different groups – pensioners, farmers, workers, and government employees – over the past few weeks.