Iran’s food security crisis is escalating at an alarming speed after reports emerged that beef, dairy, and fruit purchases have dropped as much as 30 percent in a single week.
Despite the alarming figures, English-language reports on Iran’s food crisis or the details of a potential famine appear to be virtually non-existent.
According to Persian-language outlet Radio Farda, Ismail Moradian, VP of Iran’s Fruit and Vegetable Sellers Association told the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) on June 22 that exploding inflation caused the sales of fruits and vegetables to drop 25 to 30 percent in a single week.
Strawberries are priced as high as 80,000 tomans ($2.40~ USD) per pound, cherries as high as 120,000 tomans ($3.62~ USD) per pound, and apricots as high as 70,000 tomans ($2.10~ USD) per pound, the article stated.
The toman is a superunit of the extremely devalued Rial, which is currently worth approximately 0.00002 U.S. cents.
A second article states that Mehdi Mirza Amin, a Board Member of the Beef Production and Distribution Union told ILNA on June 17 that beef sales had dropped 20 percent “in recent weeks” after a 10 percent price rise.
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The increase brought the price of beef to roughly 200,000 tomans ($6.00~ USD) per pound.
And in a third article, Mir Islam Teymouri, Chairman of the Iranian Dairy Industry Association stated on June 7 that dairy consumption dropped 20 percent since May after consumers bore an 80 percent price increase.
While we might think that inflation in North America is painful, Tehran Times published a June 24 article stating that yearly inflation numbers posted by The Statistical Center of Iran revealed a devastating 52.5 percent year over year increase in the cost of consumer goods.
Month over month, the increase was 12.2 percent for urban residents and 18.1 percent for rural residents.
Current, official statistics on Iran’s current median wages are difficult to find. However, a Jan. 24 article by Iran International reported a government announcement that the minimum wage would be raised starting March 21, 2022 to 56 million rials ($220 USD~).
However, the article stated the poverty line for the country’s current average 3.3 person household was already $440 USD, before inflation started to go wild.
At the beginning of the month, Iran made headlines as it became the first country in the world to launch a bread rationing system that relied on a social credit digital identification app to function.
A limited amount of bread would be available via a coupon scheme issued through the app at prices subsidized by the government.
The move came after Iran suddenly hiked the price of many staple foods, including flour, dairy, and cooking oil by as much as 300 percent in mid-May, according to The Guardian.
As a result, protests and rioting broke out in different parts of the country, leading to the government shutting down the Internet for a period of time.
A report on the protests by France24 revealed that 22 percent of Iranian youth are unemployed.
According to the English-language Iran-focused website Kayhan Life, Iran’s Ministry of Agriculture Jihad issued a directorate to all ministers ordering them to keep “completely confidential” all internal correspondence on food costs, including command economy directives.
Although there is little to no reporting in English-language media on the food shortage or the potential famine citizens may be enduring, on June 27, BNN Bloomberg reported that officials from Iran and the United States were set to meet in Qatar on June 28 for the purposes of attempting to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
The article described the deal as having “placed strict controls on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, including easing restrictions on the OPEC producer’s oil exports.”
BNN states that reviving the deal may have the benefit of helping to lower international crude prices.
But in worse news for Iran’s economy, a June 27 Associated Press wire said that state-owned Khuzestan Steel Co., one of the country’s main steel producers, was forced to halt operations after being hit by a cyberattack by the hacker group Gonjeshke Darande on June 26.
The group’s Twitter account appears to have posted a video of security footage taken from inside the plant.
A second tweet from the group states it also hit the Mobarakeh and Hormozgan Steel Companies because, “These companies are subject to international sanctions and continue their operations despite the restrictions. These cyberattacks, being carried out carefully so to protect innocent individuals, are in response to the aggression of the Islamic Republic.”