A drought-stricken Iranian farmer separate barley from straw. Reuters./ FILE PHOTO

 – Iran will need to import at least 7 million tonnes of wheat in the year to March 2023, marking a second year of high imports as drought continues to affect domestic production, the chairman of Iran‘s Grain Union said on Tuesday.

Kaveh Zargaran gave the forecast in a conference presentation, extracts of which were passed to Reuters by his office.

Iran‘s Grain Union estimates that the country imported a record 8 million tonnes of wheat in the previous year to March 2022, Zargaran’s office said.

Iran‘s domestic wheat output can vary widely depending on rainfall and the country has in some years been self-sufficient in the staple cereal.

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Importers are now facing additional difficulties as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted Black Sea grain shipments.

Iran also has the challenge of financing imports in the face of U.S. sanctions, which it is aiming to get lifted through negotiations to revive an accord on its nuclear programme.

The projected wheat imports in the year ahead would contribute to total expected Iranian imports of 25 million tonnes in grains, meal and oilseeds, Zargaran added in his presentation.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Edmund Blair and Tomasz Janowski)

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