Iranian Food Imports and Sanctions

Iran’s food imports are increasingly affected by financial sanctions. Food is not part of the sanctions regime and imports are possible, but facilitation of payment is the issue.

International traders shy away from the uncertainty and the difficulty of receiving payment in convertible currency. Transport insurance is also an issue.

It is a structural problem. Essentially the Iranian trading system has problems in coping with the new situation: Private traders stay away and the public sector cannot fill the void.

In the past, Iran has already entered barter arrangements with Pakistan or accepted payment in non-convertible Indian rupees.

In good years Iran is close to self-sufficiency in grains. But this year was not a good one and Iran had to resort to international markets on a large scale, not to mention more luxurious food items like poultry where there has been an import boom in the past fueled by oil revenues.

Iranian diets are becoming simpler and experts fear for increased malnutrition among poorer Iranians who  cannot afford a more varied diet.

Qatar’s Self-Sufficiency Vision

An interesting article in Time Magazine about the self-sufficiency vision of the Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) based on an interview with its chairman Fahad al-Attiya.

It contains a number of interesting stats about the involved costs for desalination, the environmental problems of brine release into the Gulf waters and the magnitude of necessary soil imports.

Al Dahra in Serbia: Shift from LDCs to developed markets

UAE based Al Dahra has announced an agro-investment on 20, 000ha in Serbia for $380 million where it plans to grow grains and alfalfa as fodder. It already has a similar project for alfalfa in Pakistan.

As reason for the shift towards a more developed market it cited lacking infrastructure in developing countries as a major impediment for investments.

This trend is ongoing: If the Gulf countries actually put money on the table and go beyond mere project announcement it has been rather in developed markets like Australia or Argentina.