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Iran '99 Wheat Buying Hits 3.0MMT To Date; Sugar 800,000MT

June 29, TEHRAN (Dow Jones)-- Iran has imported around 3.0 million metric tons of wheat and 800,000 tons of sugar this year, an Iranian Commerce Ministry official said Tuesday.

The Iranian year started March 21.

Iran 's government has allocated $1.5 billion to buy essential food commodities for the country this year because a drought has reduced domestic food production, Houshang Dehqan, head of the Commerce Ministry's distribution network supervisory office, told the Iranian state news agency IRNA.

The drought, the worst for 30 years, is expected to increase the country's food shopping bill and bring overall costs to around $3.5 billion, according to Agriculture Ministry estimates.

Last year, the Iranian government bought 6.8 million tons of excess wheat from farmers. This year, the drought is expected to reduce that amount to 4.5 to 5.0 million tons.

Last week, Iran 's Commerce Minister, Mohammad Shariarmadari, said the government has earmarked $3.4 billion in the current year to import a wide range of essential commodities including wheat, rice, cooking oil and sugar for public and industrial consumption.

The commerce minister said that using $1.8 billion of the allocated amount, Iran would be importing 5.6 million tons of wheat, 800,000 tons of sugar and 900,000 tons of cooking oil.

Around 500,000 tons of the sugar imports were in raw form to save on scarce hard currency, make use of domestic processing capacity and to create employment, said the Commerce Ministry's Dehqan.


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