Drought-hit Iran imported 5.6 million tones of wheat this year after its own production fell drastically, the state news agency IRNA reported Monday, quoting the head of the national cereals board.
Mohammad Memarzadeh said the imports from Argentina, Australia, Canada, France and Kazakhstan were to make up a shortfall in domestic output, which amounted to only 4.5 million tons.
In 1998 Iran's wheat harvest totaled a record 13 million tones, almost self-sufficiency, but the last two years have seen the worst drought in three decades.
The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian disaster without sufficient international aid, with more than half the 62 million population facing water shortages.
The drought has officially cost the country some $3.5 billion, but the Iranian weather service warned at the weekend of a threat of floods in some regions following heavy rains across the country. — (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )