Iran imported about 998,000 tons of rice valued at around $996 million during the first 10 months of the current Iranian calendar year which began on March 20, 2012, the Mehr News Agency reported, citing data released by the Customs Administration.
Rice imports decreased by 20.78 per cent in weight and 1.98 per cent in value compared to the figures corresponding for the same period in the previous year.
India, UAE, and Pakistan were the main exporters of rice to Iran.
On December 19, 2012, Mehdi Kabuli, an official with the country's Agricultural Jihad Ministry, said Iran needs to import 500,000 tons of rice each year.
Iran plans to produce over 2.4 million tons of rice in the current Iranian calendar year, Kabuli added.
Annual rice consumption in Iran stands around 2.8 million tons, so we only need to import less than 500,000 tons this year, he said.
Iran plans to reach self-sufficiency in rice production during the next three years.
According to the Agriculture Jihad Ministry's plan, Iran was supposed to reach self-sufficiency in the rice production field by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2013), but officials recently announced the plan needs some more three years to complete, according to ISNA.