IRAN – The Iranian poultry industry, a crucial sector of the nation’s economy, is grappling with a significant feed shortage, threatening farmers and the country’s broader food security. 

In an urgent plea, the Iran Poultry Federation has called on the Ministry of Agricultural Jihad to streamline state-controlled feedstuff imports to mitigate the growing crisis.

The Iran Poultry Federation, in an open letter, highlighted the critical need for immediate governmental intervention. 

Farzad Talakash, the federation’s secretary, emphasized that despite the availability of raw figures suggesting otherwise, the Iranian feed market is plagued by a persistent monthly imbalance in the imports of three key feed commodities: corn, soybeans, and soybean meal.

Iran relies heavily on imports to sustain its poultry industry, annually bringing in approximately 8 million metric tons of corn, 4.2 million tons of soybean meal, and 400,000 metric tons of barley. 

The imposition of Western sanctions has compelled the Iranian government to ration foreign currency, thus exerting state control over various commodity imports, including essential agricultural products.

Although the Iranian government has managed to maintain a steady supply of feedstuffs over the past year, sporadic reports have indicated temporary disruptions due to delays by the Central Bank of Iran in allocating currency for feed companies’ foreign contracts.

Talakash pointed out significant flaws in the existing system, particularly the “unjustified” state-set wholesale prices for soybean meal. This pricing issue discourages traders from importing soybean meal, leading them to prioritize soybeans and corn instead. 

Compounding the problem, Iran lacks adequate crushing facilities to process soybean meal, exacerbating the feed shortage.

To address the feed shortage, the Iran Poultry Federation has proposed that the government ensure soybean meal comprises at least 50% of the country’s soybean imports. According to Talakash, implementing this measure could significantly alleviate the current crisis.

Iranian farmers have also raised alarms about the quality of the feed inputs. Reports of chemical and microbial spoilage, particularly in corn, have become increasingly common. 

Talakash did not provide specific reasons for these quality issues but suggested that Iran’s reliance on unofficial import channels to circumvent sanctions might be a contributing factor, as these channels often lack proper product traceability.

The poultry industry’s woes are a ripple effect on the broader Iranian economy. The feed shortage has led to substantial financial losses and a marked decline in productivity within the sector. 

As a result of the crisis, resources allocated by the Central Bank to enhance food security are being undermined.

The domestic market has not been spared either. Local business groups estimate that the red meat market has experienced a staggering 50% drop in demand over the past year, leaving one in three families without red meat on their tables. 

The consumption of chicken meat and eggs has also plummeted, further straining the food supply chain in Iran.

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