EghtesadOnline: Some 170 billion rials ($4 million) have been earmarked in the current fiscal budget to revive the palm trees of Shadedan in the southern Khuzestan Province, the government spokesperson said.
Pointing to the fact that palm trees around the Maroun and Jarrahi rivers have dried up due to water shortage, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht added that there are two ways of transferring water to Shadegan, Mehr News Agency reported.
One way, he explained, is to transfer water from Karoun River Watershed to Maroun and Jarrahi rivers, and the second is to do the same through the 47-kilometer water canal built to direct water from Karoun River to dust storm hotspots in the area.
The livelihood of a majority of people in Shadegan depends on the city’s 10,000 palm tree orchards and businesses created by date production and exports, according to Financial Tribune.
According to the chairman of the National Association of Iranian Dates, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia are the world’s biggest producers of dates with 1.4 million tons, 1.2 million tons and 1.1 million tons per year respectively.
“Yet, Iran is the biggest exporter of the crop,” Mohsen Rashid Farrokhi told Financial Tribune in an interview last year, adding that Egypt ranks second with Saudi Arabia and Tunisia sharing the third spot.
Tunisia ranks seventh in production, but is the third biggest exporter of dates.
Stating that 15% of the dates produced in Iran are used in the processing industry, Farrokhi said plans are underway to increase the share to 30%.
Iran produced close to 1.2 million tons of dates in the last Iranian year that ended on March 20, 2017. About 20% of overall production, worth around $300 million, were exported to Europe, North America, the Far East and Russia, registering a 2% increase compared to the previous year.
Farrokhi noted that the government has a five-year plan to increase the share of exports from local production to 30%.
“For this, we have started working on India and China as our new markets and already gained some success,” he said.
Per capita date consumption in Iran is 3 kilograms.
Director General of Agriculture Ministry’s Tropical and Subtropical Fruits Department Abolqasem Hassanpour said 230 hectares of date plantations in Iran produce more than 12 types of the product.
“On each hectare, 1 direct and 0.5 indirect jobs are created and date cultivation [in Iran] has created about 350,000 jobs,” he said.
According to Hassanpour, Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, Kerman, Fars, Bushehr, Khuzestan, Ilam, Kermanshah, Yazd, South Khorasan and Isfahan top the list of Iranian provinces that cultivate dates.