Rice Cultivation in Iran
• The total area under rice is
more than 600 000 ha; rice is
grown in 15 provinces.
• However, more than 80 percent
of rice area is distributed in the
two northern provinces of
Mazandaran and Gilan,
adjoining the Caspian Sea.
• It is estimated that 265 000 ha
in Mazandaran (including areas
in Gorgan) and 230 000 ha in
Gilan are under rice cultivation.
Cultivation and Consumption of Rice in Iran
• Almost all rice is grown under irrigated
• Yields are 3 to 3.5 tonnes/ha for local and
5 to 7 tonnes/ha for improved varieties.
• Normally one crop of rice is taken from April/May
to August/September with 100-130-day varieties.
• Rice is the second major food grain,
• Annual rice consumption is around
2.8 million tons, 34-35 kg per person.
• Rice consumption have been
increasing during last four decades.
• Iran now depends on importing
between 400 000 and 500 000 tons of
rice for domestic consumption.
Local Varieties Status
The primary classification of Iranian rice is based on the
physical shape of grains and on market value. They are
broadly classified into 3 categories by grain and shape:
• i) Sadri: very long slender grains; >7 mm kernel length;
superior cooking and eating qualities; aromatic; high
grain elongation; susceptibility to blast and stem borer;
average yield about 5 tonnes/ha.
• ii) Champa: medium grains; smaller kernels and lower
market value than the Sadri category, but more
resistant to environmental stresses, diseases and
insects; higher yielding than the Sadri group.
• iii) Gerdeh: short and round grains; much lower market
value but more resistant to stresses and higher yielding
than the first two categories.
• Since the 1960s, research has been carried out on various aspects of rice
• Major policy objective since 1979 has bee “self sufficiency” in rice through
application of a) biological, b) chemical and c) mechanical technologies.
• Varietal improvement projects have dominated and have mainly concentrated
on improving the local varieties through mass selection and hybridization.
• RRII in Harst was established in 1993, with main focus (in collaboration with IRRI)
on research related to the development of high-yielding rice varieties that are
resistant to diseases and pests; modern techniques for increasing domestic rice
production; and the implementation of farm mechanization, tillage systems, and
• The disciplines at RRII are: i) plant breeding; ii) pest, disease and weed control;
iii) water and soil science; and iv) agricultural machinery and engineering.
Research and Development Policy
Research and Development Outcomes
• Hybridization breeding programs have aimed at
improving the yield of local varieties and at
developing high-yielding varieties (HYVs).
• At Rasht and Amol in the 1980s, several HYVs were
developed with a higher yield potential, ranging
from 5 to 7 tonnes/ha and a high degree of
resistance to blast.
• About 60 000 ha in Mazandaran Province, which has
about one-third of the total rice land in Iran, were
planted to Amol 2 and Amol 3 (HYVs).
A different view: The main actual issues that
rice farmers in Iran are facing include:
1- Majority of farmers are small-scale as average farm size of
rice fields is about 0.7 ha (resource-poor farmers predominate).
2- Costs of living and of production, particularly labor costs, are
increasing; market fluctuations due to world market and economic
sanctions have affected economic situation.
3- Low income from rice cultivation, particularly with low price
received for HYVs, is discouraging rice farmers.
4- Low yield of favored local varieties (in high demand) is due to
vulnerability to blast disease, lodging, and environmental changes.
5- Water shortages are common, and there are increasing adverse
impacts of fertilizer and agrochemicals on water and soil resources.
A different approach to technology
development in rice sector is needed:
Conventional research and
Large-scale, top-down and
Complex and imported technology
Expensive and capital-intensive
Increasing production achieved with
increased costs too
High environmental impacts and
Long-term and not definite
Required approach for
Appropriate and contextual
Simple, indigenous and people based
Increase production and reduce the
cost and inputs (profitable)
Tangible and short-term results
SRI in Iran
• A cultivation method named the System of Rice Intensification
(SRI), developed in Madagascar during the early 1980s, has
been reported as considerably improving rice yields, along with
achieving water savings, cost reduction, and resistance to
biotic and abiotic stresses (Uphoff, 1999, 2003; Barah, 2009;
Barison and Uphoff, 2011).
• During APO meeting in Japan the SRI concept introduced
through Professor Uphoff in 2004.
• First, the RRII was informed about SRI, and then the Haraz
Technology Development and Extension Centre (HTDEC) was
encouraged to start evaluation of SRI.
• Agronomy Group of HTDEC with encouragement of deputy
minister of extension (Ministry of Agriculture) agreed to start
triais of SRI in the field on 2004.
SRI Practice in Iran
The first SRI practice was done in 2004 on 2 demonstration fields with
2 ha total paddy area (5000 m2 at HTDEC and 1.5 ha under farmer
management) using a local variety.
In first year, just a few principles of SRI were practiced, i.e., young
seedlings, one seedling per hill, and intermittent irrigation in the
farmer’s field, and one seedling per hill and intermittent irrigation in
HTDEC paddy field.
In 2007, after introducing this method to farmers by demonstrations
and FFS activities in HTDEC five demonstration fields were assessed
under farmers’ management (3.3 ha) and a SRI paddy field of 6000 m2
in HTDEC. Economic analysis of SRI practice at farmer’s field level
In 2013, a number of field experiments were carried out in people’s
farms to evaluate, demonstrate and improve paddy field management
through extension (Mazandaran province).
SRI Increased production up 60% compared to conventional
At same time, SRI practices reduced
nursery costs by 41%
Water consumption in SRI was decreased
by up to 30%
SRI production is achieved with about one-third
reduction of water consumption.
In Mazandaran Province, with conventional
management system, 1 ha of rice needs 12,500
m3 water, while with SRI practice, the
requirement is about 8,000 m3, a reduction of
4,500 m3 in irrigation water with the
wetting/drying method, with 3,000-4,000 m3
needed for puddling and land preparation.
Summary of major results:
SRI practices could increase rice yield about
Decrease the costs of production up to 40%.
Decrease water consumption up to 30%.
After the first year trials, a training and demonstration
program on SRI was established at HTDEC for
farmers and extension officers.
SRI advantages are:
Particularly appropriate for small farmers and small
Simple, indigenous, and people-based technology
Economical, cost-reducing (affordable)
Increased productivity (higher production with
lower costs and input requirements (profitable)
Tangible, short-term results (accessible)
Future challenges -
Mutual engagement and Integrity
1. Integration of research and academics with SRI in Iran and rest of the world:
Planning and preparing the first regional symposium on SRI in Asia and
Middle Eastern countries in this year.
More publication and communications.
2. Engagement of local people, NGOs and institutions with SRI in Iran and rest of
the world through Cornell connections:
3. Application of SRI also with other products and priorities:
First priority would be dealing with water issue and water saving
First product to be focused on could be wheat, major crop in Iran