Dutch agri-food looks at new opportunity for export to Iran

The Dutch agri-food sector is again becoming more interested in investing in Iran, says the Dutch agricultural council Hans Smolders. That has been different for a long time because of the political tensions between Iran and the US and the EU.

A growing number of Dutch companies have recently been asking the Dutch embassy in Tehran for information

For various reasons, the Netherlands had no agricultural council in Iran since 2005, until Smolders was stationed there in 2017. But because of the collision course of the previous US president Trump, there was a threat of a hitch due to all kinds of trade sanctions.

The Netherlands previously exported about €1.2 billion to Iran, part of which was in the agricultural sector. That has fallen sharply because of the international economic sanctions. In 2020, the total export value was less than half; almost €0.5 billion.

Relations between Iran and the rest of the world are improving with the arrival of new US President Joe Biden. According to Smolders, this will undoubtedly have a positive effect on trade, especially if the sanctions are lifted. He notes that many Dutch agri-food companies are ready to do business there.

According to him, the Netherlands is starting to gain a foothold in the Iranian potato sector after a seminar with 250 participants and professional input from the Netherlands. The potato sector is growing considerably and can make good use of input from knowledge and technology.

The Netherlands has also made the first successful contacts in covered horticulture. Since 2015, the greenhouse area has increased by 6,000 hectares. Dutch greenhouse builders have played an important part in this.

Agreements have recently been made between Iraqi and Dutch parties to conduct trials with the cultivation of salt-tolerant crops. Iraq requires more Dutch knowledge about saline agriculture. And now Iran too, according to Smolders.