Iran's Agriculture Deputy Minister Elaborates the Development of the Market-Oriented Farming Systems in the Territory of the Border Rivers Basins
EghtesadOnline:Hossein Shirzad, who is also the CEO of the Central Organization for Rural Cooperatives of Iran (CORC), in a technical interview made comments on the importance of the development of the market-oriented farming systems in the territory of the Border Rivers basins.
Q1. What is the distinctive point between the farming systems in the territory of the border rivers basins and other regions?
A1. The most significant difference among the border river basins and other regions is the existence of the common basic production resources. Historically, the borders had been drawn based on the political-military concerns rather than geographical homogeneity. Therefore, the ecological and production resources have been divided among the border regions of the different countries. The oil and gas, water and soil, marine as well as the underline water resources are of the most important of the joint production resources of the border regions. This has provoked serious conflicts over the exploitation of common resources, especially in the Middle East.
Among the joint production resources, the water resources matter more than the other ones due to the slow renewability. The investment of Turkey on the controlling and reserving of the common water resources has brought about a strategic advantage for the country in ration to Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, the bloody wars between Jordan and the Jerusalem occupying regime is another instance of the importance of controlling the border water resources.
Iran's water resource territory is experiencing highly competitive diplomacy, as well. Currently about 10% of the State's renewable water resource (about 130 billion CC) is procured from the common basins with the neighboring countries. However, the oil and gas resources are prioritized to the other resources at now, but it is anticipated by decreasing the mentioned resources, shortly, the significance of water resources will be double increases.
The second specification of the border farming systems is the structural and spatial characteristic of the border areas. The production of the border regions is totally market-oriented. Furthermore the dwellers in the border regions share many cultural and linguistic common specifications with neighboring countries. They can access the neighboring countries easier than their countries. The geographical isolation combined with the national and regional identity has created a paradox for the dwellers of the borderline regions in the historical conflicts. Naturally, these conflicts should be resolved through the development of the farming systems based on the integrated national identity.
Q2.What is the basic pivots of the new farming systems in the border river basins? Will they be developed based on the old experiences of the rural production cooperatives or agro-joint stock companies?
It is worth mentioning that the exploitation planning for border water resources is not a new phenomenon. However, the best pattern should be developed based on the mutual understanding of the neighboring countries on the joint exploitation and registering the water rights in each country's territory. Furthermore, it should be accepted by the national water and soil doctrine. Aras and Atrak rivers are the distinctive samples of this pattern. Notwithstanding, in some border regions, applying this doctrine is impeded due to the geomorphologic, political, or spatial heterogeneity between the two-sided of the borders. The Project of 46000 hectares of Sistan and of the river basins of Khuzestan is the most significant examples of these regions. Development of the farming systems in such regions requires adopting distinctive approaches.
Based on the reductionism, the first approach recommends establishing huge concrete structures including dams, tunnels, and transfer facilities. This pattern suffers many critical deficits consisting high of a cost, environmental damages, and triggering home and foreign conflicts in the border regions.
The second approach is the territory comprehensive approach based on the hydraulic farming systems. Observing the rights of the whole stakeholders, the second approach emphasizes first on the propulsion role of water for the regional development, second on the virtual transfer of water to the home country by considering the environmental concerns and international commitments.
From the macro viewpoint, this approach brings about three outcomes including reducing the conflicts originating from the border dwellers' dual identity, acceleration of their racial and ethnic integrity through reduction of the aftermath of the social and economic isolation, and paving the way of sustainable use of outgoing border water. Performing this approach demands to have a strategically spatial program for development. This program should observe many critical aspects including the economic capacity monitoring, feasibility studies based on the cropping, horticulture, cultivation patterns and accurate calculation of the agricultural inputs (water, labor force, soil…).
Q3. What is the strategically planning framework for development of farming system in the border regions?
The spatial planning refers to the practices used for effective population distribution, fair regional and spatial equilibrium and logical organizing the economic activities in which led to a balanced development among economic prosperity and environmental protection. The spatial planning has four levels including international, national, regional and local .Albeit from the orientation point; it could be problem-oriented, future-oriented and goal-oriented. Considering the geostrategic specification of the border regions and strategic values of the joint water resources, the logical planning framework for development of farming systems in such area refers to a strategically and problem-oriented planning at the regional level . By region, we mean the basin and neighboring areas of the border river. Obviously, the first priority is solving the problem of the comprehensive development of the water resources with adopting developmental exploitation approach. The form of transferring, the soil quality, land tenure management, ecologic variability, environmental aspects, and hydrology are of the second priority. The strength point of this framework is observing the sustainable ecologic of the farming systems. The Resiliency of agriculture is decreasing slowly but constantly, because of the aftermaths of environmental crisis and improper cattle breeding and cropping. This will lead to collapsing the civil societies in the rural border regions. No government can afford to face these challenges without the farmers' community participation. The resilience of the border farming systems should be boosted through climate-change flexibility. The development of the private agro-industry corporations with the joint venture of the banking system could resolve this problem. The vast integrated cropping, linking to the industry , development of the food processing systems, appropriate financial management of theses large farming system , hiring seasonal and stable workers , constant applying the modern know-how could led to develop sustainable farming systems. Meanwhile applying the industrial management to make a distinction among working and capital factors, expertise-based work-dividing, fundraising for large horticultural, cropping, and livestock projects is necessary. Cultivating modified seeds, rearing improved cattle and poultry races, and governmental controlling the cultivation patterns of some market-oriented crops could be named as the effective solution of farming systems in the border regions. Furthermore, the establishment of the agile and public organization (Like the development organizations of the 60th decades including the Khuzestan, Ghazvin, and Jiroft development organization) is required to force the total new structures to only serve the resident farmers in the territory of the border rivers basins. These organizations should be developed based on the viewpoints of the skilled advisors, cheap credit, and partnership of the private sector.