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International Conference and Study Meeting on: Organic Agriculture for Promoting Green Productivity and Agribusiness Exports Code: 07-AG-32-GE-STM-B ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN ISLAMIC REP. OF IRAN OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES M.MIRHOSSEINI 23-27 July 2007 New Delhi, India
Organic agriculture in Iran <ul><li>Iran is the second largest country in the Middle East, with an area of 1.65 million square km. It has been a centre for the evolutions of agriculture, people engaged in agriculture first settled here some 10,000 years ago. Since Iran spans a wide range of latitudes and longitudes, it also has a diverse range of physiographic, climate, vegetation and biological productivity. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Over 18 million ha of land are used for agriculture, producing 65 million tones of food, from field crops to horticultural products, for a population of 70 million. Iran ranks thirtieth in the world in terms of the amount of production, and eighth based on the diversity of products. Currently, 3.4 million farmers in Iran cultivate 18.5 million ha. Although traditional agriculture still operates in some areas of so-called ignored organic farmer’s, this has not been recognized as organic agriculture. Small-scale ignored organic farming system’s product more than 80% of agricultural products. </li></ul>
The below diagram shows some of the agricultural products, which despite the fact that they are produced without usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, they do not have organic certification.
<ul><li>Unfortunately, as in most other developing countries, application of agrochemical products is huge in Iran. For example, over 27 000 tons of pesticides were used during 2000/01 and the country spent US$ 125 million on pesticide imports in 2002. </li></ul><ul><li>The data as diagram 3 highlight the need for assessing and implementing alternatives to agrochemicals (pesticides and mineral fertilizers) and the need for development of more integrated safe approaches for agriculture in Iran. </li></ul>
Diagram 3 . Ratios of pesticide types usage in Iran
A successful example of organic agriculture in Iran <ul><li>An example of private sector activities in recent years is constructing olive orchards organically in Qom province on the edge of central desert of Iran, which technologically and scientifically is quite unique according to different Iranian news agencies. Its average yield is 10 tons/hectare, which is 40% higher than Europe, and 300% higher than Iran. </li></ul><ul><li>Organic growing in this farm is by a new patented method called "Fertilizer channel". In this method, plant remains and animal fertilizers in a channel with specific dimensions prepare the roots of plants. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Fadak farm has received attention from domestic and foreign scientific-research organizations. </li></ul>
Iranian government considering organic agriculture advantages, and has taken policies regarding joining foreign markets and WTO, namely: <ul><li>Heightening awareness of farmers and experts regarding organic farming. </li></ul><ul><li>In this regard, development of the new "Ecological agriculture" field in two universities, workshops and training programs for farmers is being undertaken in a not very broad level. </li></ul><ul><li>Discontinuing subsides on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. During recent years subsides on most pesticide have been eliminated, and in July, 2007, discontinuance of subside on chemical fertilizers was announced. </li></ul><ul><li>Expansion of production of useful insects in order to reduce usage of pesticides. </li></ul><ul><li>At present, tens of small & large useful insects' production units are active in the country. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Support & reinforcing non-governmental organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>In 2007, "Iran Organic Association" was established with the aim of expansion of organic agriculture. </li></ul><ul><li>Research. There is no comprehensive and acceptable research activity being performed on methods of production of organic products by agricultural research institutions of the country. </li></ul>
Strengths of the country for fully developing the organic agriculture sector <ul><li>Iran is a vast country which spans a wide range of latitudes and longitudes and also has a diverse range of physiographic, climate, vegetation and biological productivity. </li></ul><ul><li>The 70 million population and the several billion population of the whole Asia continent is a very vast consumer market for Iranian organic products. </li></ul><ul><li>Because of relative advantages in some horticultural products, particularly dry foods, Iran has a long history of production and export of pistachios, peanuts, almonds, saffron and etc. </li></ul><ul><li>80% of agricultural products in Iran are produced by ignored organic farmers. </li></ul>
Weakness of the country in fully developing the organic agriculture sector <ul><li>There is no specific organization for official supervision on organic production in the country. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of related laws & regulations on organic production in the country. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of scientific organizations certified by world & European standards for issuance of organic products certificates. </li></ul><ul><li>Inadequacy of the culture for organic product consumption among various classes of the society, both consumers & producers. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of research & execution funds. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of low-cost facilities. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of equipped labs for measuring residues of pesticides and toxins. </li></ul>
Organic agriculture strategy for Iran <ul><li>For effective expansion of organic food production, and in order to provide incentives for farmers, the most important priorities for Iran are listed below: </li></ul><ul><li>Training and education, for the public, farmers, organization and the government, from school to higher education levels. </li></ul><ul><li>Standards and regulations. Today, the basic standards of the IFOAM are used, more or less in the same way in different countries. Proper national organic standards, rules and regulations, based on internationally accepted standards should be carefully developed for organic growers in Iran. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Certifying organizations. Establishment of national and local certifying organizations with affordable services for inspection, certification and improving facilities is needed on Iran. Under current international organic regulations and labeling, subsidized government inspection and certification can be expected. Certification is expensive and needs to be designed and developed predominantly for the needs of the international market. </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing. Viable producer and consumer linkages and marketing of organic products must be developed nationally and internationally. Efficient trade regulation that is socially fair, ecologically sound needs to be designed. </li></ul>
Conclusions <ul><li>Today, there is growing concern and demand for healthy food, both from policy makers and the public. Demand for national and international organic food sources is a driving force requiring further consideration in Iran. Trends are emerging for production of organic herbs, spices, dried fruits and nuts for export. To comply with this demand, international regulations must be considered and proper national standards should be implemented. The development cost is often a major constraint, i.e. product development costs, including extension and training, are currently far too high for local private sector investment at current market size in Iran. </li></ul><ul><li>Iran has a long history of ecological agriculture, stretching back 10,000 years. A return to such ecological production systems in Iran could be a way to protect the fragile local environments, and may be the most important reason for using these systems as they could potentially provide benefits technologies for everybody on Earth. </li></ul>