EghtesadOnline: Iran imported 380,009 tons of fruit worth $267.71 million and exported 7.88 million tons worth $5.52 billion during the 11 months to Feb. 18, says Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
“Exports have been 20 times higher than imports both in terms of weight and value,” he was quoted as saying by ILNA.
Noting that imports of tropical fruits have declined over the 11-month period, the official said, “A total of 345,026 tons of bananas worth $234.52 million were imported during the period, indicating an 18% decline compared with last year’s similar period. Coconut imports stood at 2,181 tons worth $1.39 million, registering a 51% decrease year-on-year. Pineapple imports hovered around 4,696 tons worth $4.08 million during the period, which shows a 30% decline YOY. A total of 22,787 tons of mangos worth $16.99 million were imported during the period, down 35% compared with last year’s corresponding period,” he said.
Tropical Fruit Production
A total of 165,000 tons of tropical fruits, including mangoes, bananas, sapodilla, guavas and papayas, have been produced in Iran since the beginning of the current Iranian year on March 20, 2020, Agriculture Ministry official, Zahra Jalili-Moqaddam, said recently.
The provinces of Hormozgan, Sistan-Baluchestan and Kerman are tropical fruit production hubs in Iran.
“At present, land under tropical fruit cultivation is not high. Yet, as stipulated in the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22), these orchards should be expanded to 12,500 hectares. In doing so, we will be able to meet the greater part of domestic demand through local production,” she said.
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“Imports of tropical fruits to Iran cost as much as $500 million annually,” Mohammad Mehdi Boroumandi, another official with Agriculture Ministry, told IRNA.
Referring to the favorable climatic conditions of the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan and its great potential for the growth of tropical fruits, the official said, “We intend to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of tropical fruits by extending support to farmers and expanding orchards.”
Banana Most Popular Tropical Fruit
Banana accounts for the highest volume of tropical fruits imported into Iran mainly because Iranians are marginally aware of mango and pineapple but have no exposure to sapodilla, guava or papaya.
According to Boroumandi, a total of 92,947 tons of bananas were produced on 4,838 hectares in the last Iranian year [March 2019-20], which was sufficient to meet 20% of domestic demand for this tropical fruit.
“Domestic demand for bananas stands at 550,000 tons annually, of which 450,000 tons are supplied through imports and 100,000 tons via local production,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“According to data of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, last year’s banana imports hovered around 457,225 tons worth $308 million. The provinces of Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, southern Kerman, Fars and Bushehr are producers of banana in Iran. Notably, the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan accounts for 99.8% of the country’s banana output.”
“Sistan-Baluchestan Province has the largest area under banana cultivation with 4,835 hectares. 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 told IRNA.
More than 60,000 tons of bananas have been harvested in Sistan-Baluchestan Province so far in the current fiscal year (started March 20, 2020), a local official, Ardeshir Shahraki, said recently.
“There are close to 5,000 hectares of banana plantations in Sistan-Baluchestan, more than 3,000 hectares of which currently bear fruit. The province is Iran’s banana production hub,” he said.
“Chabahar, Konarak and Sarbaz counties account for the lion’s share of the province’s banana yield.”
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.
Besides bananas, Sistan-Baluchestan’s tropical climate enables the province to produce mango, papaya, guava and coconut, in addition to watermelon, pomegranate, olive and citrus fruits. Harvest takes place twice a year for most of these fruits.
Yet, the harsh cold spell of late has caused losses worth 7,500 billion rials ($30 million) to banana orchards of Zarabad District in Sistan-Baluchestan Province.
According to local official, Masoud Latifian, over 1,000 hectares of banana orchards in Zarabad were ruined entirely.
“Just before the latest frost, visible wilt symptoms in 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, 2020,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“Thirty hectares of guava orchards were also damaged completely by the extreme weather,” he added.