Press TV – The Iranian parliament has voted to support a long-serving civil servant to become the country’s new agriculture minister amid government efforts to boost output and exports of various farming products.
Kazem Khavazi gained the parliament’s vote of confidence on Wednesday with 196 lawmakers voting in his favor. Some 15 lawmakers voted against and four others abstained as the 290-chamber convened with just more than two thirds of its members because of the new coronavirus pandemic.
Khavazi, an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad (MAJ), replaces Abbas Keshavarz who served for several months in a caretaking capacity after former minister Mahmoud Hojjati resigned because of a planned vote of no confidence in the parliament.
Khavazi’s appointment comes as Iran is experiencing a rapid boom in its huge farming sector as output has boomed and exports have significantly increased over the past few years.
The government says the sector grew by nearly nine percent in the past Iranian calendar year which ended in late March.
Growth in farming has contributed to the narrowing of Iran’s trade deficit with more agricultural products being shipped to other countries while self-sufficiency in production of key staples like the rice and wheat has led to lower imports.
Various nuts, fruits and vegetables, as well as poultry and sea food products account for a bulk of Iran’s agrifood exports. Recent figures by the agriculture ministry showed that Iran only made over $80 million in the 10-month period ending late January from exports of kiwifruit.
The boom in agriculture sector comes as the government seeks to diversify the economy away from oil and offset the impacts of the American sanctions that restrict the country’s direct sale of crude.