Tea imports into Iran stood at 17,800 tons worth $90.8 million from March 21 to July 6, registering a 4% and 9% growth in weight and value respectively, according to the latest data released by Islamic Republic of Iran’s Custom Administration.
Tea imports hit 17,100 tons worth $83.2 million in the corresponding period of last year, IRNA reported.
Iran's Tea Association puts domestic demand for tea at 120,000 tons per year. Iran consumes about 5% of the total annual world tea production.
Local tea production meets 30% of the annual domestic demand and the rest is imported from India and Sir Lanka. Turkey, Germany, China, Japan, Vietnam, Kenya and Poland are other exporters of the product to the country.
A total of 62,325 tons of green tea leaves have been purchased by the government from local farmers so far this year, showing a 10% rise compared with the similar period of last year, the head of Iran Tea Organization said in June.
Habibollah Jahansaz also told IRNA that this amount has cost the government around 3.91 trillion rials ($15 million).
About 48,907 tons of the purchases (79% of the total) are top-quality tea leaves and the remaining 13,418 tons (21%) belong to other varieties.
The official added that out of the overall green leaf production up until now, more than 14,000 tons of processed tea have been derived.
The crop undergoes three harvests a year: the spring harvest that starts in late April, the second in summer begins early June and the last one is in autumn and starts late September.
“Right now we are in the middle of the second harvest. During the first, green tea leaf yields amounted to 55,000 tons and our estimates for the second harvest reaches between 45,000 tons and 50,000 tons,” he added.
The official noted that weather reports predict low levels of precipitation in the summer and this might have negative impacts on the country’s overall annual production.
This is while in May, Jahansaz said 135,000 green tea leaves are estimated to be harvested during the current Iranian year (started March 21), which is 4,000 tons more than last year.
There are currently 28,000 hectares of tea plantations in the country, 22,000 hectares of which bear yields, according to Iran Tea Organization figures.
More than 55,000 farmers earn their living through tea cultivation in Iran’s northern provinces and of Gilan and Mazandaran where the product is considered an economically strategic commodity.
Some 90% of Iran’s tea plantations are located in Gilan Province. Lahijan County in eastern Gilan is known as Iran’s tea production capital.