Reuters: Iran’s wheat import needs are expected to drop 32 percent year on year to 1.7 million tonnes in the 2012/13 marketing year (April/March) thanks to higher carryover stocks from the current season, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said. (Reuters) – Iran’s wheat import needs are expected to drop 32 percent year on year to 1.7 million tonnes in the 2012/13 marketing year (April/March) thanks to higher carryover stocks from the current season, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said.
Iran has built ample stocks of wheat, the dominant cereal in the country — accounting for nearly 70 percent of total cereal production — in the early months of 2012, the FAO said in a country brief on Iran on its website (www.fao.org).
Total cereal imports are forecast to remain high at 7.3 million tonnes, including maize, wheat and rice, it said.
European traders said on Wednesday that Iran’s state feed agency SLAL is tendering to buy corn and soybean meal needed to feed the country’s large livestock herds as private importers struggle with trade financing due to Western sanctions.
The Iranian government bought wheat on international markets at a frantic pace in March, snapping up 2.5 to 3 million tonnes of bread wheat and paying over international prices, as private Iranian flour mills found they could not purchase in the face of sanctions.
The sanctions, aimed at Iran’s disputed nuclear plans, do not target food shipments, but financial measures have frozen Iranian firms out of much of the global banking system.
Sanctions are also making it difficult for importers to obtain letters of credit or conduct international transfers of funds through banks.
Iran’s 2012 wheat output is preliminarily forecast to fall below 2011 levels to 13.5 million tonnes, hit by erratic rainfall in the main wheat producing areas.
That would still be about the average level of the previous five years, the Rome-based FAO said.
Iran produces small amounts of rice and maize, it added. (Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova; Editing by David Hulmes)