Iranian Customs Administration (IRICA) deputy chief Mehrdad Jamal Arvanaghi said on Saturday that Iranian agri-food exports totaled $ 1.7 billion in the first four months of the current calendar year.
Jamal Arvanaghi told IRIB News that pistachios topped the list of agricultural food exports from Iran at $ 279 million for the period, including shipments of pistachio kernels valued at $ 67 million.
Iran exported $ 147 million worth of watermelons in the four months, he said, adding that tomatoes, apples, confectionery, potatoes, dates and tomato paste made up a large part of the value of exports between March and July.
The total weight of agri-food exported during that period was 2.5 million tons, the official said, adding that most shipments went to Iraq, China, Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates.
The surge in agri-food exports is due to Iran continuing to struggle under a series of American bans that restrict access to banking services and trade routes.
It is also coming to control the spread of the coronavirus despite ongoing restrictions on borders, although some countries have eased restrictions after successful vaccination campaigns against the disease.
Iran has encouraged increased activity in its agricultural sector in recent years as the country seeks to diversify the economy away from crude oil revenues, which are hit by US sanctions.
Agriculture has been one of the top performers in the Iranian economy since the US bans in 2018. Recent government figures show that the sector’s annual production has increased from just over 90 million tons in 2013 to over 130 million tons this year.