EghtesadOnline: A total of 120,000 tons of different types of raisins worth $164 million were exported from Iran in the last fiscal year (March 2019-20), registering a 6% rise compared with the year before.
According to Darab Hassani, an official with Agriculture Ministry, Iran has around 308,000 hectares of vineyards (289,000 hectares of which are productive) with an annual output of 3 million tons of grapes, out of which some 200,000 tons of raisins are produced, ILNA reported.
The official expects exports to increase to 150,000 tons this year.
The main grape producing provinces in Iran are Fars, Qazvin, Hamedan, Khorasan Razavi, East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Zanjan and Markazi in a descending order.
Domestic raisins consumption is 40,000 tons per year.
According to Abbas Banazadeh, an agriculture expert, Iran is the world's third biggest producer of raisins after the US and Turkey, and the eighth biggest producer of grapes.
Iran’s biggest export destination for grapes and raisins is Russia. Other main customers are member countries of the European Union, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf littoral countries.
“Raisin is Iran’s third major non-oil exports after carpets and pistachios,” Akbar Fathi, the head of East Azarbaijan Agricultural Organization, said.
According to Younes Jaeleh, the head of Tabriz Chamber of Commerce, Iran produces 286,000 tons of grapes annually with East Azarbaijan Province having a 68,700-ton share.
Globally Important Agricultural Heritage of Jowzan Valley
The traditional grape cultivation in Malayer County’s Jowzan Valley rural district, Hamedan Province, was formally recognized as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System in late 2018.
The announcement was made during a meeting in Rome of the GIAHS Scientific Advisory Group affiliated with the Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations.
“We, as the responsible body in Iran in this respect, sent the proposal for Jowzan Valley grapes to be designated as a GIAHS in early 2017. Around 90% of the grapes produced in Malayer are cultivated in the vineyards of this valley,” Ali Kianirad, the deputy head of Agricultural Planning, Economic and Rural Development Research Institute affiliated with Agriculture Ministry, told Financial Tribune.
According to Davoud Habibi, an official with the Agriculture Ministry’s Horticulture Department, Hamedan Province has around 20,411 hectares of orchards that yield 350,000 tons of grape every year.
Some 58% of these vineyards are in Malayer, which produce more than 203,000 tons of grapes.
Jowzan Vally is made up of 17 villages and accounts for the lion’s share of Malayer’s grape production.
Hamedan is Iran’s fifth biggest grape producer after Fars, Qazvin, Khorasan Razavi and West Azarbaijan.
The grape and grape-based production system in Jowzan has a long history. Farmers have made grape cultivation possible in extreme cold conditions, thanks to their unique techniques.
Traditional knowhow and tools allow the farmers to process more than 40 grape products out of 130 grape varieties. This, together with higher yield per hectare, unique skills of farmers and the right sugar level are all factors that make the grapes and raisins of Jowzan Valley different from those of other parts of the country and a top seller among consumers, FAO wrote on its website.
Over the years, the system has significantly improved the living standards of locals, while giving a boost to the region’s tourism and rural economy.