Agriculture in Iran

Agriculture in Iran

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Roughly one-third of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

's total surface area is suited for farmland, but because of poor soil and lack of adequate water distribution in many areas, most of it is not under cultivation.
Only 12% of the total land area is under cultivation (arable land, orchards and vineyards) but less than one-third of the cultivated area is irrigated; the rest is devoted to dry farming. Some 92 percent of agro products depend on water. The western and northwestern portions of the country have the most fertile soils. Iran's food security
Food security
Food security refers to the availability of food and one's access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. According to the World Resources Institute, global per capita food production has been increasing substantially for the past...

 index stands at around 96 percent.

One third of the total land area (35%) is used for grazing
Grazing
Grazing generally describes a type of feeding, in which a herbivore feeds on plants , and also on other multicellular autotrophs...

 and small fodder production. Most of the grazing is done on mostly semi-dry rangeland in mountain areas and on areas surrounding the large deserts ("Dasht's") of Central Iran.

The non-agricultural surface represents 53% of the total area of Iran, as follows:
  • Abb. 35% of the country is covered by deserts, salt flats ("kavirs") and bare-rock mountains, not suited for agricultural purposes.
  • An additional 11% of Iran's total surface is covered by woodlands.
  • And 7% is covered by cities, towns, villages, industrial areas and roads.


At the end of the 20th century, agricultural activities accounted for about one-fifth of Iran's gross domestic product (GDP) and employed a comparable proportion of the workforce
Workforce
The workforce is the labour pool in employment. It is generally used to describe those working for a single company or industry, but can also apply to a geographic region like a city, country, state, etc. The term generally excludes the employers or management, and implies those involved in...

. Most farms are small, less than 25 acres (10 hectares), and thus are not economically viable, which has contributed to the wide-scale migration
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

 to cities. In addition to water scarcity and areas of poor soil, seed is of low quality and farming techniques are antiquated.

All these factors have contributed to low crop yield
Crop yield
In agriculture, crop yield is not only a measure of the yield of cereal per unit area of land under cultivation, yield is also the seed generation of the plant itself...

s and poverty in rural areas. Further, after the 1979 revolution many agricultural workers claimed ownership rights and forcibly occupied large, privately owned farms where they had been employed. The legal disputes that arose from this situation remained unresolved through the 1980s, and many owners put off making large capital investments that would have improved farm productivity
Productivity
Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of production. Productivity is a ratio of what is produced to what is required to produce it. Usually this ratio is in the form of an average, expressing the total output divided by the total input...

, further deteriorating production. Progressive government efforts and incentives during the 1990s, however, improved agricultural productivity marginally, helping Iran toward its goal of reestablishing national self-sufficiency in food production.

Land use and irrigation


Overall, Iran's soil is not well suited for large scale agriculture. About 12 percent of the country's total land area of 1,636,000 km² is cultivated. Still, 63% of the cultivable lands have not been used, and 185,000 km² of the present farms are being used with 50 to 60% capacity.

Both irrigated and rain-fed farming are used in Iran. In 2005, some 13.05 million hectares of land was under cultivation, of which 50.45% was allocated to irrigated farming and the remaining 49.55% to rain-fed system.
Rainfall & Agricultural Production
March 2001 March 2003 March 2005 March 2007 March 2008 March 2009 March 2010 March 2011
Production (Million Ton) 65 80 87 97 92 70 91 99
Rainfall
Geography of Iran
Iran is located in southwest Asia and borders the Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, and Caspian Sea.Its mountains have helped to shape both the political and the economic history of the country for several centuries. The mountains enclose several broad basins, or plateaus, on which major agricultural and...

 (Millimeter)
52 70 69 62 75 51 61 69

Crops and plants



The wide range of temperature
Temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

 fluctuation in different parts of the country and the multiplicity of climatic zones make it possible to cultivate a diverse variety of crops, including cereals (wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, and maize (corn)
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

), fruits (dates, figs
FIGS
FIGS is an acronym for French, Italian, German, Spanish. These are usually the first four languages chosen to localize products into when a company enters the European market....

, pomegranates, melons, and grapes), vegetables, cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, sugar beets and sugarcane
Sugarcane
Sugarcane refers to any of six to 37 species of tall perennial grasses of the genus Saccharum . Native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia, they have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six metres tall...

, pistachio
Pistachio
The pistachio, Pistacia vera in the Anacardiaceae family, is a small tree originally from Persia , which now can also be found in regions of Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Sicily and possibly Afghanistan , as well as in the United States,...

s (World's largest producer with 40% of the world's output in 2005), nuts
Nut (fruit)
A nut is a hard-shelled fruit of some plants having an indehiscent seed. While a wide variety of dried seeds and fruits are called nuts in English, only a certain number of them are considered by biologists to be true nuts...

, olives, spices e.g. saffron
Saffron
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus. Crocus is a genus in the family Iridaceae. Each saffron crocus grows to and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are each the distal end of a carpel...

 (World's largest producer with 81% of the world's total output), raisin
Raisin
Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

(world's third largest producer & second largest exporter), tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

, tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

, Berberis
Berberis
Berberis , the barberries or pepperidge bushes, is a genus of about 450-500 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs from 1-5 m tall with thorny shoots, native to the temperate and subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America. They are closely related to the genus...

(world's largest producer) and medicinal herbs. More than 2,000 plant species are grown in Iran; only 100 of which are being used in pharmaceutical industries. The land covered by Iran's natural flora
Flora
Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life. The corresponding term for animals is fauna.-Etymology:...

 is four times that of Europe.

Wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, and barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

 are the country's major crops. The Iranian grain sector is highly regulated. Producers receive subsidised access to input costs such as fertiliser and pesticides, as well as a guaranteed support price for their crops.

Wheat: In 2007 Iran exported close to 600,000 tones of wheat (out of a production of 15 million tonnes). Approximately 6 million tons of wheat will be purchased from 15 countries in 2009 because of the drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

 in 2008, thus making Iran the largest wheat importer in the world. Wheat production reached 14 million tons in 2010.

Rice: Iran's total rice production stands at 2.2 million tons per annum whereas annual consumption is about three million tons (2008). Iran has imported about 630,000 tons of rice from UAE, Pakistan and Uruguay worth $271 million in 2008 and 1.4 million tons of rice, worth $800 million in 2009. Iran's rice imports drop by 40% in 2010. Iran has 3,800 rice milling units (2009). The average per capita consumption of rice in Iran is 45.5 kg, which makes Iranians the 13th biggest rice consumers.

Sugar: In 2008, Iran had a shortage of 400,000 tons to 600,000 tons of sugar nationwide. Sugar companies suffered from massive imports of cheap sugar over the past few years, which led to a 50% drop in the capacity of the sugar industry’s production in 2008. The lack of import tariffs was the main reason for the domestic sugar industry suffering in this manner.

Pistachio: Iran ranks the world's largest pistachio
Pistachio
The pistachio, Pistacia vera in the Anacardiaceae family, is a small tree originally from Persia , which now can also be found in regions of Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Sicily and possibly Afghanistan , as well as in the United States,...

 producer and exporter followed by USA and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. After oil and carpets, pistachios are Iran's biggest exports: about 200,000 tons for $840 million in 2008. More than 350,000 people earn a living from the nut, most of them in vast groves of the desert oases in southeast. Iran's share in the global pistachio market reached 50 percent in 2010.

Saffron: Saffron
Saffron
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus. Crocus is a genus in the family Iridaceae. Each saffron crocus grows to and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are each the distal end of a carpel...

 is cultivated in many regions of the country, the provinces of North Khorasan, Khorasan Razavi and South Khorasan in the northeast have the highest production share. Iran's saffron is exported to the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Japan, Turkmenistan, France, Italy and US. The northeastern Khorasan Razavi province exported 57 tons of saffron worth $156.5 million to 41 countries in 2010. The high production cost comes from the exhaustive process of extracting the stamens from the flower and the amount of flowers necessary to produce small amounts of spice but the process is in the process of being automated now. Iran is the largest producer of Saffron with 93.7% of the world's total production.

Tea: Tea production rose to 190,000 tons in 2007 from 130,000 tons in 2004. 75,000 tons of tea is smuggled into Iran each year (2008).

Horticulture: Close to 19 million tons of horticultural crops will be produced by the end of Fourth Plan (2005–10).

Fruits: Iran exported more than 35,000 tons of citrus fruits valued at $20.8 million to 36 countries in 2008. Iran is the largest producer of berries and stone fruits in the world. See also: Fruit in Iran
Fruit in Iran
Iran ranks 1st in fruit production in the Middle East and North Africa. Iran has been ranked between 8th and 10th in global fruit production in different years...

.

Livestock



Of the country's livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

, sheep are by far the most numerous, followed by goats, cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

, donkey
Donkey
The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E...

s, horses, water buffalo, and mule
Mule
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny...

s. The raising of poultry
Poultry
Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of producing eggs, meat, and/or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae , especially the order Galliformes and the family Anatidae , commonly known as "waterfowl"...

 for eggs and meat is prevalent. One area where production infrastructure has progressed rapidly is the poultry sector. The face of the industry has now been transformed dramatically so that the entire supply chain
Supply chain
A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to...

 process can take place domestically.

Iran has also a large dairy
Dairy
A dairy is a business enterprise established for the harvesting of animal milk—mostly from cows or goats, but also from buffalo, sheep, horses or camels —for human consumption. A dairy is typically located on a dedicated dairy farm or section of a multi-purpose farm that is concerned...

 industry and imported close to two million tonnes of feed grain
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

 annually in 2006. The raising of Pigs
PIGS
PIGS is a four letter acronym that can stand for:* PIGS , Phosphatidylinositol glycan anchor biosynthesis, class S, a human gene* PIGS , the economies of Portugal, Italy , Greece and Spain...

 is forbidden in Iran due to Islamic law
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

.

Production of livestock increased over the past three years to reach 11.3 million tons in 2008 from the 10.6 million tons in 2007, and 9.9 million tons in 2006. Meat processing capacity is at 400,000 tons and 140 production units (2009). In 2008, per capita meat consumption was 26 kg. Iran produced 950,000 tons of red meat and 1,600,000 tons of chicken in 2010.

Fishing


Access to the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and many river basins provides Iran the potential to develop excellent fisheries. The government assumed control of commercial fishing in 1952. One government-owned enterprise, the Northern Sheelat Company, was established in 1952, and a second, the Southern Sheelat Company, was established in 1961. In recent years, illegal and off-season fishing, discharge of industrial and agricultural pollutants, overfishing by other Caspian littoral states, and other unfavorable conditions have endangered Caspian fish resources. Between 1990 and 2004, Iran’s total annual Caspian Sea catch declined from 98,000 tons to 32,533 tons, including 463 tons of sturgeon, which yields high-quality caviar.

Iran has 1,786 kilometers of coastline on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. These southern waters are rich in fish and other marine resources. In 2004 the catch off the southern coast totaled 299,000 tons. This represented an average annual increase of 12.6 percent since 1976. The southern catch either is used directly by households and restaurants or processed and preserved by industry. Expansion of the fishery infrastructure would enable the country to harvest an estimated 700,000 tons of fish annually from the southern waters. However, increased pollution from the oil industry and other enterprises poses a serious threat to this area’s fishing industry.

Since the Revolution, increased attention has been focused on producing fish from inland waters. Between 1976 and 2004, the combined take from inland waters by the state and private sectors increased from 1,100 tons to 110,175 tons.

Important fish include sturgeon (yielding its roe for caviar
Caviar
Caviar, sometimes called black caviar, is a luxury delicacy, consisting of processed, salted, non-fertilized sturgeon roe. The roe can be "fresh" or pasteurized, the latter having much less culinary and economic value....

), bream, whitefish
Freshwater whitefish
The freshwater whitefish are fish of the subfamily Coregoninae in the salmon family Salmonidae. Along with the freshwater whitefish, the Salmonidae includes the freshwater and anadromous trout and salmon species as well as graylings...

, salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

, mullet
Mullet (fish)
The mullets or grey mullets are a family and order of ray-finned fish found worldwide in coastal temperate and tropical waters, and in some species in fresh water. Mullets have served as an important source of food in Mediterranean Europe since Roman times...

, carp
Carp
Carp are various species of oily freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae, a very large group of fish native to Europe and Asia. The cypriniformes are traditionally grouped with the Characiformes, Siluriformes and Gymnotiformes to create the superorder Ostariophysi, since these groups have certain...

, catfish
Catfish
Catfishes are a diverse group of ray-finned fish. Named for their prominent barbels, which resemble a cat's whiskers, catfish range in size and behavior from the heaviest and longest, the Mekong giant catfish from Southeast Asia and the second longest, the wels catfish of Eurasia, to detritivores...

, perch
Perch
Perch is a common name for fish of the genus Perca, freshwater gamefish belonging to the family Percidae. The perch, of which there are three species in different geographical areas, lend their name to a large order of vertebrates: the Perciformes, from the Greek perke meaning spotted, and the...

, and roach
Rutilus
Rutilus is a genus of fishes in the family Cyprinidae, commonly called roaches. Locally, the name "roach" without any further qualifiers is also used for particular species, particularly the Common Roach Rutilus (Latin for "shining, red, golden, auburn") is a genus of fishes in the family...

. More than 200 species of fish are found in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

, 150 of which are edible, including shrimps and prawns.

Some 692,000 tons of aquatics will be produced across the country by the end of the 2008, of which 236,000 tons would be bred and the rest fished from the sea.
Per capita consumption of seafood in Iran will reach 8.5 kg by March 2009 and 10 kg a year later.

Caviar: Iranian caviar
Caviar
Caviar, sometimes called black caviar, is a luxury delicacy, consisting of processed, salted, non-fertilized sturgeon roe. The roe can be "fresh" or pasteurized, the latter having much less culinary and economic value....

 export is expected to reach $22 million by March 2009. Iran is the world's largest producer and exporter of caviar in the world, exporting more than 300 tonnes annually.

Forestry



In 2005 Iran’s forest area totaled about 11 million hectares, approximately 7 percent of the country’s surface area. Adequate rainfall and a favorable climate have created 1.5 million hectares of dense forest in the Caspian region. The remainder is distributed among western forests (3.6 million hectares), southern forests (434,000 hectares), desert forests (620,000 hectares), and forests scattered in other locations. Supervised by the Department of Natural Resources, the Caspian forests produced 820,000 cubic meters of timber products in 2004, more than 90 percent of which was for industrial use. The largest and most valuable woodland areas are in the Caspian
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 region and the northern slopes of the Elburz Mts., where many of the forests are commercially exploitable and include both hardwoods and softwoods. Although forests and pastures are nationalized and 12 percent of forested land is nominally protected, forest destruction by the private sector is routine. Limited forest areas, mismanagement, and destruction have compelled Iran to import lumber and wood products. In addition, forest fires destroy 20,000 hectares of forest area each year. Between 1954 and 2004, an estimated 41 percent of Iran’s forest land was lost. The cutting of trees is rigidly controlled by the government, which also has a reforestation
Reforestation
Reforestation is the natural or intentional restocking of existing forests and woodlands that have been depleted, usually through deforestation....

 program.

History



Agriculture has a long history and tradition in Iran. As early as 10,000 BCE, the earliest known domestication of the goat
Goat
The domestic goat is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over three hundred distinct breeds of...

 had taken place in the Iranian plateau. By 5000BCE, wine was being fermented in Iran, and by as early as 7th century CE, the windmill
Windmill
A windmill is a machine which converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades. Originally windmills were developed for milling grain for food production. In the course of history the windmill was adapted to many other industrial uses. An important...

 had been invented in Persia for the first time in history.

Fruits such as the peach
Peach
The peach tree is a deciduous tree growing to tall and 6 in. in diameter, belonging to the subfamily Prunoideae of the family Rosaceae. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach...

 first found their way into Europe from Persia, as indicated by their Latin name, persica, from which (by way of the French) we have the English word "peach." As did Tulips, which were also first cultivated in ancient Persia and spinach
Spinach
Spinach is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant , which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions...

, the word Spinach itself derived from the Persian word اسفناج Esfenaj. The Chinese referred to it in 647CE as 'the herb of Persia'. In 400BCE, a form of ice cream
Ice cream
Ice cream is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners...

 was in use in Persia, and the ancestor of the cookie
Cookie
In the United States and Canada, a cookie is a small, flat, baked treat, usually containing fat, flour, eggs and sugar. In most English-speaking countries outside North America, the most common word for this is biscuit; in many regions both terms are used, while in others the two words have...

 is said to have come from Persia (from the Persian koolucheh) in the 7th century according to many sources.

Fifth century BCE Persia was even the source for introduction of the domesticated chicken
Chicken
The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

 into Europe. The mid fifth century BCE poet Cratinus (according to the later Greek author "Athenaeus") for example calls the chicken "the Persian alarm". In Aristophanes's comedy The Birds (414 BC) a chicken is called "the Median bird", which points to its introduction from Persis.

The Qanat
Qanat
A qanāt is a water management system used to provide a reliable supply of water for human settlements and irrigation in hot, arid and semi-arid climates...

, a subterranean aqueduct used for irrigation in agriculture, was one of the most significant and successful achievements of the Persian tradition. Qanats were in use millennia ago, and are still in use in contemporary Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

.

Modern era


Modern agriculture in Iran dates back to the 1820s, when Amir Kabir
Amir Kabir
Amir Kabir , also known as Mirza Taghi Khan Amir-Nezam , also known by the titles of Atabak and Amir-e Nezam; chief minister to Naser al-Din Shah Qajar for the first three years of his reign and one of the most capable and innovative figures to appear in the whole Qajar period...

, the Chief Minister to Naser al-Din Shah and a symbol of reform and modernism in Iran, undertook a number of changes to the traditional agricultural system. Such changes included importing modified seeds and signing collaboration contracts with other countries. The first agricultural school was founded about a hundred years ago and the Agriculture Bank
Keshavarzi Bank
Keshavarzi Bank, also known as Agribank, is a major Iranian banking establishment offering retail and commercial services. The company was established in 1933 and as a Farming and Industrial Bank...

 was established in 1933. The Ministry of Agriculture is currently overseeing and implementing the government’s policies in the agricultural sector.

Of the 162.2 million hectares of land in Iran, approximately 19 million hectares is agricultural land. This constitutes 12% of the country’s land area. The agricultural sector in Iran currently constitutes 13.9% of GDP and agricultural products form about 30% of Iran’s non-oil exports. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Iran ranks amongst the top 7 countries in producing 22 important agricultural products: it ranks first in pistachio
Pistachio
The pistachio, Pistacia vera in the Anacardiaceae family, is a small tree originally from Persia , which now can also be found in regions of Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Sicily and possibly Afghanistan , as well as in the United States,...

 production, second in date production and fourth in apple
Apple
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family . It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apple grow on small, deciduous trees that blossom in the spring...

 production worldwide. It is also the twelfth largest producer of wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 and had the second highest production increase after Argentina in 2010. The value of agricultural production increased by 20% in the Iranian calendar year 1389 (ending March 2011) and agricultural exports rose by 30% in comparison to the previous year.

The agricultural sector faces a number of challenges in Iran, the two most important being low rainfall and the impact of fluctuations in oil revenues. Unsurprisingly, agricultural production is directly correlated to the amount of rainfall. The relatively dry climate of most of Iran’s regions
Geography of Iran
Iran is located in southwest Asia and borders the Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, and Caspian Sea.Its mountains have helped to shape both the political and the economic history of the country for several centuries. The mountains enclose several broad basins, or plateaus, on which major agricultural and...

 makes water availability a vital factor in production. For instance, a drought in 2007 damaged agricultural output and drove it down to 9.3% of GDP.

Another influential factor is oil revenues. Historically, in periods of high oil prices and the consequent petrodollar windfall, imports accelerate rapidly in virtually all consumption categories including agricultural products. This, in turn, results in crowding out domestic production and damage to the agriculture sector. After the oil price spikes following 1973, agricultural imports also increased dramatically and caused significant damage to domestic production. Between 1970 and 1976, agricultural imports grew at the staggering annual rate of 35%. This experience was repeated in the past couple of years when oil prices were at or over $100 per barrel; the result is that agricultural imports have increased at a rapid pace and foreign products now form a sizeable chunk of the household consumption basket. Over the past few years, there have been significant price increases in agricultural products in Iran. This is due both to rising domestic demand and to rising global commodity prices.

The Iranian government supports the agricultural sector in a number of ways. Like many other countries, the agricultural sector is heavily subsidised by the Iranian government. Each year, the government guarantees the purchase of wheat from the farmers at a pre-specilized price to protect them from seasonality in the market prices. The government also pays a wide range of subsidies for improvements in production methods, the use of fertilisers and pesticides, and agricultural research. Nonetheless, there still exist considerable opportunities to improve efficiency in the agricultural sector. For instance, only 10% of farms are equipped with modern irrigation facilities
Irrigation in Iran
Irrigation in Iran covers 89,930 km2 making it the fifth ranked country in terms of irrigated area.-Tidal irrigation at Abadan island, Iran:The Abadan Island in Khūzestān Province is situated between the Arvand and Bahmanshir rivers...

 and the rest are still farmed using legacy methods.

The market mechanism for agricultural products is not particularly developed given the traditional nature of the agricultural sector and the numerous governmental interventions in the market prices. The market mainly consists of a large number of retail traders who purchase the crops from the farmers in small quantities and bring them to the major traders in the bazaar, which is the system that was the predecessor to the modern markets. In order to improve market efficiency and transparency, the Iranian government has allowed trading of agricultural products on the Iran Mercantile Exchange
Iran Mercantile Exchange
Iran Mercantile Exchange is a commodity exchange located in Tehran, Iran. It was founded in 2006. IME trades in agricultural, industrial and petrochemical products in the spot and futures markets...

 (IME) for the past seven years. More than 22 different agricultural products are currently traded on the IME and the trading volume for them is approximately 200,000 tonnes per annum. Nonetheless, given the direct impact of the prices of agricultural products on people’s daily lives and welfare, the government actively intervenes in the market by setting prices, importing products in large amounts, subsidising certain products, and restricting exports in order to supply domestic demand.

With the subsidies reform plan implemented, many experts are hopeful that not only will government intervention and price distortions in agricultural products be reduced, but also that a fundamental restructuring will take place in the agriculture sector. The government has recently quadrupled bread prices as part of the plan and is planning to liberalise the market completely. In addition, the pricing of a number of other products that was previously done by the government is now to be left to the market mechanism. More importantly, fuel, water and electricity prices have increased significantly. The government has still kept prices lowest for agriculture in comparison to household and industrial consumers. Nonetheless, the high level of inefficiency in the agricultural sector from irrigation to harvesting, is expected to be fundamentally reformed and replaced with more efficient and modern technologies.

With an amazingly diverse climate
Geography of Iran
Iran is located in southwest Asia and borders the Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, and Caspian Sea.Its mountains have helped to shape both the political and the economic history of the country for several centuries. The mountains enclose several broad basins, or plateaus, on which major agricultural and...

, very high local and regional demand and an educated workforce of more than 100,000 in this field, Iran’s agricultural sector is clearly underdeveloped and has immense potential for investment and growth.

Agribusiness



After nearly achieving agricultural self-sufficiency in the 1960s, Iran reached the point in 1979 where 65 percent of its food had to be imported. Declining productivity was blamed on the use of modern fertilizers, which had inadvertently scorched the thin Iranian soil. Unresolved land reform
Land reform
[Image:Jakarta farmers protest23.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Farmers protesting for Land Reform in Indonesia]Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution,...

 issues, a lack of economic incentives to raise surplus crops, and low profit ratios combined to drive increasingly large segments of the farm population into urban areas.

Since 1979 commercial farming has replaced subsistence farming as the dominant mode of agricultural production. Some northern and western areas support rain-fed agriculture, while other areas require irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 for successful crop production. The 1979 Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 sought self-sufficiency in foodstuffs as part of its overall goal of decreased economic dependence on the West. Higher government subsidies for grain and other staples and expanded short-term credit and tax exemptions for farmers complying with government quotas were intended by the new regime to promote self-sufficiency. But by early 1987, Iran was actually more dependent on agricultural imports than in the 1970s.

By 1997, the gross value of products in Iran's agricultural sector had reached $25 billion. In 2000, the Construction Jihad Organization and the Ministry of Agriculture were merged by national legislation, to form the new Ministry of Agricultural Jihad
Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture (Iran)
The Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture established in 2001, is an Iranian government body responsible for the oversight of Agriculture in Iran...

.

In 2003, a quarter of Iran's non-oil exports were agricultural based. In 2004 an agricultural bourse
Stock exchange
A stock exchange is an entity that provides services for stock brokers and traders to trade stocks, bonds, and other securities. Stock exchanges also provide facilities for issue and redemption of securities and other financial instruments, and capital events including the payment of income and...

 started trading agricultural and related products in the country. Iran's agricultural sector contributed 11 percent of the GDP in 2004 and employed a third of the labor force.

Benefiting from 123,580 square kilometers of land suitable for agriculture, the agricultural sector is one of the major contributors to Iran's economy. It accounts for almost 13% of Iran's GDP, 20% of the employed population, 23% of non-oil exports, 82% of domestically consumed foodstuffs and 90% of raw materials used in the food processing industry (2008).

Focus areas


The focus areas for agriculture are:
  • Financing and low-interest loans for investment in agriculture and agro-industrial projects.
  • Ensuring self-sufficiency in the provision of national food requirements.
  • Budgets for agro-industrial projects in the food processing, packaging and irrigation
    Irrigation
    Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

     sectors.
  • Provision of agricultural machinery and equipment with emphasis on local production by making transfer of technology a required clause in foreign contracts
    Foreign Direct Investment in Iran
    Foreign direct investment in Iran has been hindered by unfavorable or complex operating requirements and by international sanctions, although in the early 2000s the Iranian government liberalized investment regulations. Iran ranks 62nd in the World Economic Forum's 2011 analysis of the global...

    . Foreign loans and investments in the agro sector exceeded $500 million in 2008.
  • Allocation of government loans and financing for agro-industrial projects.

Agro complexes



In 2009 seven hundred agricultural complexes were under construction on 60,000 hectares of farmlands across the country. Chicken farms, animal husbandries, fish farming pools and greenhouses are built in these complexes.

Mechanized agriculture



Mechanized agricultural has had a slow but steady growth in Iran. Industrial facilities in Tabriz
Tabriz
Tabriz is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the junction of the Quri River and Aji River, it was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s, one of its former...

 and Arak
Arak, Iran
-Industries:thumb|right|250px|wagon parsArak is one of the main industrial cities of Iran, possessing many plants for heavy industries especially for the metal and machinery industries, including:...

 are Iran's largest producers of machinery and equipment for the agricultural sector. 12,000 combine harvester
Iran Combine Manufacturing Company
-History:Iran combine Manufacturing Co. was established and registered in 1969 under the name of Jansaz and started production of agricultural machinery with a capacity of 20,000 tones per annum....

s and 300,000 tractors are currently used in the sector (2007). Tabriz Tractor Manufacturing Company
Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company
Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company is a tractor manufacturing company with headquarters in Tabriz.-History and development:Based on an agreement that was reached in 1966 between Iran and Romania to establish a tractor manufacturing company in Iran, the company was created in Tabriz in 1968...

, which was founded four decades ago, employs almost 10,000 people. It produces 30,000 tractors annually, a large part of which is exported. Iran declared self-sufficiency in irrigation and agricultural machinery in 2008.

Production and consumption


There are 22,000 food industries units in the country (2009). The capacity of these units has increased to 60 million tons from 8 million tons in the pre-Islamic Revolution era. Agricultural production stood at 108 million tons in 2008, which indicates a 20 million ton increase from 2007.
Per capita consumption (Source:EIU) 2009 est. 2010 est.
Meat consumption (kg per head) 27 27
Milk consumption (litres per head) 64 65
Fruit consumption (kg per head) 172 173
Vegetable consumption (kg per head) 184 186
Tea consumption (kg per head) 0.9 0.9


Iranian government policy aims to reach self-sufficiency
Self-sufficiency
Self-sufficiency refers to the state of not requiring any outside aid, support, or interaction, for survival; it is therefore a type of personal or collective autonomy...

 in food production and by 2007, Iran had attained 96 percent self-sufficiency in essential agricultural products. But wastage in storing, processing, marketing and consumption of food products remained a concern.

The following is the Iranian out-put listed according to the largest global producer rankings in 2007:
World Ranking Commodity; (Source: FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

)
1st Pistachio, Berberis (Zereshk)
Berberis
Berberis , the barberries or pepperidge bushes, is a genus of about 450-500 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs from 1-5 m tall with thorny shoots, native to the temperate and subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America. They are closely related to the genus...

, Caviar, Saffron
Saffron
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus. Crocus is a genus in the family Iridaceae. Each saffron crocus grows to and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are each the distal end of a carpel...

, Stone fruits, Berries
2nd Dates, Apricots
3rd Watermelons, Cherries, Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe
"Rockmelon" redirects here, for the band see Rockmelons. See also Cantaloupe .Cantaloupe refers to a variety of Cucumis melo, a species in the family Cucurbitaceae which includes nearly all melons and squashes. Cantaloupes range in size from...

s & other melon
Melon
thumb|200px|Various types of melonsThis list of melons includes members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae with edible, fleshy fruit e.g. gourds or cucurbits. The word "melon" can refer to either the plant or specifically to the fruit...

s, Apples, Figs
FIGS
FIGS is an acronym for French, Italian, German, Spanish. These are usually the first four languages chosen to localize products into when a company enters the European market....

, Gherkins
4th Sheep Stocks (Flocks), Fresh Fruits
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

, Quince
Quince
The quince , or Cydonia oblonga, is the sole member of the genus Cydonia and native to warm-temperate southwest Asia in the Caucasus region...

s, Wool
Wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

, Almonds, Walnuts
5th Anise
Anise
Anise , Pimpinella anisum, also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor resembles that of liquorice, fennel, and tarragon.- Biology :...

, Badian, Fennel
Fennel
Fennel is a plant species in the genus Foeniculum . It is a member of the family Apiaceae . It is a hardy, perennial, umbelliferous herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves...

, Corian, Chickpeas, Silk worm cocoons
Bombyx mori
The silkworm is the larva or caterpillar of the domesticated silkmoth, Bombyx mori . It is an economically important insect, being a primary producer of silk...

6th Hazelnut
Hazelnut
A hazelnut is the nut of the hazel and is also known as a cob nut or filbert nut according to species. A cob is roughly spherical to oval, about 15–25 mm long and 10–15 mm in diameter, with an outer fibrous husk surrounding a smooth shell. A filbert is more elongated, being about twice...

, Buffalo milk, Tomatoes
7th Grapes, Onions, Sour cherries
Sour Cherry
Prunus cerasus, or the sour cherry, is a species of Prunus in the subgenus Cerasus , native to much of Europe and southwest Asia. It is closely related to the wild cherry Prunus cerasus, or the sour cherry, is a species of Prunus in the subgenus Cerasus (cherries), native to much of Europe and...

, Sheep milk
Sheep milk
Sheep's milk is the milk of domestic sheep. Though not widely drunk in any modern culture, sheep's milk is commonly used to make cultured dairy products. Well-known cheeses made from sheep milk include the Feta of Greece, Roquefort of France, Manchego from Spain, the Pecorino Romano , the Pecorino...

, Kiwifruit
Kiwifruit
The kiwifruit, often shortened to kiwi in many parts of the world, is the edible berry of a cultivar group of the woody vine Actinidia deliciosa and hybrids between this and other species in the genus Actinidia....

8th Spice
Spice
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. It may be used to flavour a dish or to hide other flavours...

s, Peach
Peach
The peach tree is a deciduous tree growing to tall and 6 in. in diameter, belonging to the subfamily Prunoideae of the family Rosaceae. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach...

, Nectarines, Tangerine
Tangerine
__notoc__The tangerine is an orange-colored citrus fruit which is closely related to the Mandarin orange . Taxonomically, it should probably be formally named as a subspecies or variety of Citrus reticulata; further work seems to be required to ascertain its correct scientific name...

, Mandarin orange
Mandarin orange
The orange, also known as the ' or mandarine , is a small citrus tree with fruit resembling other oranges. Mandarin oranges are usually eaten plain or in fruit salads...

, Clem, Lemons & Limes
Lime (fruit)
Lime is a term referring to a number of different citrus fruits, both species and hybrids, which are typically round, green to yellow in color, 3–6 cm in diameter, and containing sour and acidic pulp. Limes are a good source of vitamin C. Limes are often used to accent the flavors of foods and...

, Oranges
Orange (fruit)
An orange—specifically, the sweet orange—is the citrus Citrus × sinensis and its fruit. It is the most commonly grown tree fruit in the world....

, Goat milk, Pumpkin
Pumpkin
A pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae . It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America...

s, Squash & Gourd
Gourd
A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Gourd is occasionally used to describe crops like cucumbers, squash, luffas, and melons. The term 'gourd' however, can more specifically, refer to the plants of the two Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita or also to their hollow dried out shell...

s
9th Lentil
Lentil
The lentil is an edible pulse. It is a bushy annual plant of the legume family, grown for its lens-shaped seeds...

s
10th Persimmon
Persimmon
A persimmon is the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros in the ebony wood family . The word Diospyros means "the fire of Zeus" in ancient Greek. As a tree, it is a perennial plant...

s, Tea, Natural honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

11th Hemp
Hemp
Hemp is mostly used as a name for low tetrahydrocannabinol strains of the plant Cannabis sativa, of fiber and/or oilseed varieties. In modern times, hemp has been used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food and fuel with modest...

seed
12th Citrus fruits, Wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, Plum and sloes
Prunus spinosa
Prunus spinosa is a species of Prunus native to Europe, western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa. It is also locally naturalised in New Zealand and eastern North America....

13th Melon-seeds
Melon
thumb|200px|Various types of melonsThis list of melons includes members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae with edible, fleshy fruit e.g. gourds or cucurbits. The word "melon" can refer to either the plant or specifically to the fruit...

, Hen eggs
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

, Eggplants (Aubergines)
14th Sugar beet
Sugar beet
Sugar beet, a cultivated plant of Beta vulgaris, is a plant whose tuber contains a high concentration of sucrose. It is grown commercially for sugar production. Sugar beets and other B...

, Fresh vegetables
Vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

, Barley, Potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

es
15th Safflower seed
Safflower
Safflower is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual. It is commercially cultivated for vegetable oil extracted from the seeds. Plants are 30 to 150 cm tall with globular flower heads having yellow, orange or red flowers. Each branch will usually have from one to five flower heads...

, Artichoke


The following items are the most important agricultural commodities in Iran, listed by their international value in United States dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

 in 2007:
Commodity; (Source: FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

)
International Value; x$1000 Quantity; Metric Tonnes
Cow milk 1,715,313 6,500,000
Grapes 1,391,700 2,900,000
Tomatoes 1,184,650 5,000,000
Wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

1,169,603 15,000,000
Apples 764,005 2,660,000
Pistachios 760,184 230,000
Potatoes 729,601 4,500,000
Hen eggs
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

543,543 711,000
Rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

471,135 2,800,000
Oranges 404,202 2,300,000
Watermelons 344,091 3,300,000
Fresh Vegetables
Vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

328,387 1,750,000
Dates 313,470 1,000,000
Onions, Dry
Onion
The onion , also known as the bulb onion, common onion and garden onion, is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium. The genus Allium also contains a number of other species variously referred to as onions and cultivated for food, such as the Japanese bunching onion The onion...

313,293 1,700,000
Cucumber
Cucumber
The cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, which includes squash, and in the same genus as the muskmelon. The plant is a creeping vine which bears cylindrical edible fruit when ripe. There are three main varieties of cucumber: "slicing", "pickling", and...

s and gherkins
290,146 1,720,000
Sugar beet
Sugar beet
Sugar beet, a cultivated plant of Beta vulgaris, is a plant whose tuber contains a high concentration of sucrose. It is grown commercially for sugar production. Sugar beets and other B...

243,959 5,300,000
Fresh Fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

223,314 1,400,000
Cantaloupes 218,091 1,230,000
Walnuts 208,506 170,000
Cherries 196,317 225,000

Export


Agricultural exports stood at $1.2 billion in 2004-5 and $2.6 billion in 2007-8. Major agricultural exports include fresh and dried fruits, nuts, animal hides, processed foods, and spices. Pistachio, raisins, dates and saffron are the first four export products, from the viewpoint of value. Close to 8 million tons of agricultural products are exported annually (2008). But according to the Central Bank of Iran, only 3.2 million tons of "agricultural products" were exported in 2008 with a total value of $3.2 billion "which showed a 6.1 percent increase over the previous year".

Foodstuff



Iran exported $736 million worth of foodstuffs in 2007 and $1 billion (~600,000 tonnes) in 2010. Soft drinks, mineral water, biscuit, chocolate, confection, edible oil, dairies, conserved foods and fruits, jam and jelly, macaroni, fruit juice and yeast were among the main exports to Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Syria, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Venezuela, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

Government policy



In theory, Iranian agricultural policy is intended to support farmers and encourage the production of strategically important crops. The policy is twofold: first, to purchase certain crops at guaranteed prices and second, to encourage the production of specific crops through farm subsidies. The policy of purchasing agricultural crops from farmers at guaranteed prices was put in place in the 1989 crop year. On average, the guaranteed prices increased at the rate of inflation over the past 15 years. Individual subsidy levels for major crops, however, vary annually.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, government agricultural planning was only marginally successful. According to government figures, during the 1990s—coincident with the first two Islamic Republic economic plans—only 40.5 percent of the agricultural modernization projected by those plans was accomplished, and only 40.2 percent of government and private-sector financial commitments materialized.

Because wheat is considered Iran’s most strategically important crop, it received the largest subsidies, and its production grew at the fastest rate between 1990 and 2005. From FY 2003 to FY 2004, wheat subsidies increased by 17.2 percent, reaching a record of US$1.5 billion. Between 1981 and 2004, the area cultivated with wheat remained stable at 5 million hectares, but wheat production increased from 5.7 million to more than 11 million tons.

Beginning in 1990, the government expanded its agricultural support programs to include a guaranteed purchase price for major agricultural crops, subsidies, favorable interest rates, government investment, and favorable foreign-trade policies. Primarily because of government support for domestic agriculture, between 1989 and 2003 the import volumes of wheat, sugar, and red meat declined by 77.7 percent, 39.6 percent, and 88.2 percent, respectively. Concurrently, the value of agricultural exports increased from US$461.5 million in 1989 to US$1.7 billion in 2004. However, over the same period total food and live animal imports increased from US$1.37 billion to US$2.65 billion.

Industry standards


Iran is signatory to bi-lateral protocols that set the standards for many of its agricultural imports including meat and wheat. The protocols are usually negotiated on a country-by-country basis and it's commonplace for Iran to inspect produce prior to shipment.

Iran Customs and the Iran Veterinary Organization are the policing bodies for imported food products, including dairy.

Meat imports require written authorization from the Ministries of Commerce
Ministry of Commerce (Iran)
The Ministry of Commerce of Iran was the main organ of the Government in charge of the regulation and implementation of policies applicable to domestic and foreign trade...

 and Agricultural Jihad. The Iranian Government insists on the presence of Shiite clergymen and inspections by the Veterinary Organization during any livestock slaughter.

The Codex Commission of Food Stuff, established in 2002 is in charge of setting and developing standards and quality and health regulations, related to the production of and trade in raw agricultural products and food stuffs, in accordance with the different global standards.

Plant Protection Organization


The Plant Protection Organization is in charge of issuing export and import licenses for all kinds of plants and parts thereof including bulbs, cuttings, roots, fruits, saplings, and seeds, as well as the issuance of licenses - which are solely of a technical nature - for importation, exportation, production, transformation and packaging of all kinds of pesticides, herbicides, and plant hormones.

Research and development



Attention to the food and nutrition status of Iranian people has been made since Institute of Nutrition and Food Science of Iran (INFSI) was established by Dr. Habibollah Hedayat in 1961.

In 2005, Iran's first genetically modified
Genetically modified organism
A genetically modified organism or genetically engineered organism is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one...

 (GM) rice was approved by national authorities and is being grown commercially for human consumption. In addition to GM rice, Iran has produced several GM plants in the laboratory, such as insect-resistant maize; cotton; potatoes and sugar beets; herbicide-resistant canola; salinity- and drought-tolerant wheat; and blight-resistant maize and wheat.

There are different ongoing research in agricultural fields in Iran which are mostly focused on local problems and requirements. Iran has also a very focused and intensive nanotechnology
Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

 research program for agricultural applications.

See also



  • Agriculture Research Station of Gonbad
    Agriculture Research Station of Gonbad
    The Agriculture Research Station of Gonbad is one of the well known agricultural research stations in Iran because of its considerable contribution to releasing high yielding varieties. This station was established in 1985...

  • Cuisine of Iran
  • Habibollah Hedayat
    Habibollah Hedayat
    Dr. Habibollah Hedayat , known as the father of modern nutrition sciences of Iran, is the founder of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science of Iran...

  • International rankings of Iran
  • Iran Combine Manufacturing Company
    Iran Combine Manufacturing Company
    -History:Iran combine Manufacturing Co. was established and registered in 1969 under the name of Jansaz and started production of agricultural machinery with a capacity of 20,000 tones per annum....

  • Iranian Agriculture News Agency
    Iranian Agriculture News Agency
    Iranian Agriculture News Agency is an Iranian Official news agency focuses on agricultural issues of the world countries and introduces that of Iran to the world...

  • Irrigation in Iran
    Irrigation in Iran
    Irrigation in Iran covers 89,930 km2 making it the fifth ranked country in terms of irrigated area.-Tidal irrigation at Abadan island, Iran:The Abadan Island in Khūzestān Province is situated between the Arvand and Bahmanshir rivers...

  • List of reservoirs and dams in Iran
  • Water supply and sanitation in Iran
    Water supply and sanitation in Iran
    Water supply and sanitation in Iran has witnessed some important improvements, especially in terms of increased access to urban water supply, while important challenges remain, particularly concerning sanitation and service provision in rural areas....



External links


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