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EghtesadOnline: Amid low precipitation and water shortage, the government is going to place restrictions on the cultivation of crops in areas of the country where underground water resources are at alarming levels as of the upcoming Iranian year (starting March 21), says Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati.

“In other areas such as Khuzestan and Mazandaran Provinces farmers can use low-depth wells to deal with the situation for the time being,” he was quoted by IRNA as saying.

Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian says water shortage will negatively impact the spring cultivation of agricultural products.

The head of Mazandaran Agricultural Jihad Organization said on Wednesday that there are serious concerns regarding problems farmers are likely to face during rice planting season, which takes place in late Bahaman and early Esfand, the eleventh and twelfth months of the Iranian calendar respectively, Financial Tribune reported.    

Delavar Heydarpour added that water reserves behind the province’s dams have decreased by an average of 40% since the beginning of the current year compared with the similar period of last year. 

“Our suggestion is that farmers in the cities of Sari, Miandoroud, Behshahr, Galugah and parts of Juybar and Simorgh avoid rice planting and opt for the cultivation of oilseeds, or fodder instead,” he was quoted as saying.

Although water scarcity is one of the biggest environmental challenges facing Iran, inefficient management of the valuable resource is largely to blame for a crisis that has emerged over the years, says Director of Iran Water Industry Federation.

“The revenue earned from the sale and export of many types of crops does not equal the value of water used for their irrigation,” Foroughi said recently. 

Reportedly, about 92% of the country’s water resources are used up by unsustainable and wasteful farming practices.

The country’s nearly two-decade struggle with drought, combined with high consumption and waste, has caused renewable water resources to drop under 120 billion cubic meters. However, by some accounts, that figure is closer to 88 bcm.

Located in one of the world’s most water-stressed regions, Iran’s average precipitation rate has been lower than the global average for at least 10 years. Some 37 million Iranians are said to be living in water-stressed regions.

 

Mahmoud Hojjati Iran water shortage Farming in Iran