Overall grain production increased throughout the 1970s, peaking
in the late 1970s and again in the early 1980s and decreasing
somewhat by 1985. Wheat is Iran's main grain crop; its production
increased in the early 1980s from that in the 1970s, along with
that of barley.
Wheat is a staple for most of the population. Bread is the most
important single item in the Iranian diet, except in certain parts
of the Caspian lowlands where rice is more commonly grown. Wheat
and barley are planted on dry-farmed and irrigated lands and on
mountain slopes and plains. Wheat is used almost exclusively for
human consumption, and barley is used mainly as animal feed.
Rice is the only crop grown exclusively under irrigation. The
long- grain rice of Iran grows primarily in the wet Caspian lowlands
in the northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran, where heavy
rainfall facilitates paddy cultivation. Population growth and
the rising standard of living stimulated production of the high-quality
rice that could be used for export. Although the Ministry of Agriculture
and Rural Development sought to develop rice as an export crop
as early as 1977, by the end of that year 326,000 tons of rice
had to be imported to meet domestic needs. In 1985 rice imports
increased 3 percent over the previous year's 710,000 tons.
Other grain imports fell in 1985 by 43 percent compared with
1984 levels. Wheat, flour, and feed grain imports declined as
Data as of December 1987