EghtesadOnline: The cold spell has inflicted losses worth millions of dollars on Iran’s agricultural sector, mainly in the south of the country.
Up to 9.8 trillion rials ($42 million) in losses have been registered on 38,000 hectares of agricultural land across 12 counties of Fars Province.
“Some 82% of the losses amounting to 8.08 trillion rials [$35 million] were inflicted on 25,000 hectares of orchards and the remaining 18% [1.72 trillion rials or $7.48 million] were incurred by 13,000 hectares of farms,” Jafar Sabouripour, a local official, was quoted as saying by IRNA.
He added that the worst hit counties were Darab with more than $13.39 million, Fasa with $8.52 million and Jahrom with $7.43 million in losses.
Banana orchards of Zarabad District in the southern Sistan-Baluchestan Province have also incurred losses amounting to 7,500 billion rials ($32 million).
According to Masoud Latifian, a local official, over 1,000 hectares of banana orchards in Zarabad were ruined entirely.
“Just before the recent frost, wilt symptoms on banana trees were reported in some orchards due to the occurrence of Pratylenchus, a large genus of filamentous fungi due to the flash floods and inundations in the Iranian month ending Jan. 20,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“Thirty hectares of guava orchards were also damaged completely by the extreme weather,” he added.
A total of 90,000 tons of bananas were produced in Iran from 4,881 hectares in the last Iranian year (March 2019-20), according to Agriculture Ministry official, Zahra Jalili-Moqaddam.
Noting that between 90,000 and 120,000 tons of bananas have been produced in Iran annually over past years, the official said, “Bananas are being grown in five provinces of Iran: the southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province accounts for 98% of the country’s banana output and the rest are being produced in Hormozgan, Southern Kerman, Fars and Bushehr.”
“Sistan-Baluchestan Province with 4,835 hectares has the largest area under banana cultivation. A total of 22.3 hectares of plantations in Southern Kerman, 12 hectares in Fars, 10 hectares in Hormozgan and 2.3 hectares in Bushehr have been dedicated to banana cultivation,” Jalili-Moqaddam was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“More than 60,000 tons of bananas have been harvested in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province so far this year (started March 20),” Ardeshir Shahraki, a local official, said recently.
“Sistan-Baluchestan has close to 5,000 hectares of banana plantations, more than 3,000 hectares of which currently bear fruit. The province is Iran’s banana production hub,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The Agriculture Ministry official noted that a total of 150,000 tons of bananas will be produced in the province this year.
“Chabahar, Konarak and Sarbaz counties account for the lion’s share of the province’s banana yield,” Shahraki said.
Mohammad Ali Tahmasebi, deputy agriculture minister for horticultural affairs, told Mehr News Agency that the government plans to expand Sistan-Baluchestan’s banana plantations by 2,000 hectares in cooperation with the private sector.
“Modern technology will be used in the new plantations to increase yield and quality,” he added.
Sistan-Baluchestan’s tropical climate enables the province to produce watermelon, pomegranate, olive and citrus fruits, besides banana, mango, papaya, guava and coconut. Harvest takes place twice a year for most of these fruits.
Jalili-Moqaddam had earlier said an average of 450,000 tons of bananas are imported every year, while domestic production of the fruit stands at around 120,000 tons per annum.
According to the official, the capacity for domestic production of bananas as well as other tropical fruits is much higher than the current levels.
“The Agriculture Ministry is prepared to grant incentives, banking facilities and subsidies to encourage farmers in producing these fruits,” she said.
Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, said a total of 308,970 tons of bananas worth $210.32 million were imported during the nine months to Dec. 20 compared with 334,252 tons worth $226.06 million in the last fiscal year (March 2019-20).
“Despite the ban on order registration for banana imports [since the Iranian month ending May 20], overall imports do not show a significant difference compared with last year. Main exporters of bananas to Iran include Turkey, India, Philippines, Ecuador, Pakistan, the UAE, Russia, and Vietnam,” Latifi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“The main producers of banana in the world, i.e., Ecuador and Philippines, are not the top exporters of the fruit to Iran. Turkey ranks first among banana exporters to our country. Moreover, prices of bananas purchased from the neighboring country are cheaper than those imported from Ecuador.”