EghtesadOnline: Exports of nuts and dried fruits stood at 776,000 tons worth $2.03 billion in the fiscal 2020-21, registering a 54% and 42% growth in weight and value respectively compared with the corresponding period of the previous year, according to an official of Trade Promotion Organization.
China, the UAE, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Afghanistan were among Iran's biggest nuts and dried fruit exports destinations.
In the fiscal 2020-21, Iran's total trade stood at 145.7 million tons worth $73 billion, of which exports stood at 112 million tons worth $34.256 billion and imports hit 34.4 million tons worth $38.4 billion, IRNA reported.
Pistachio Tops List
Mahmoud Bazari, the TPO official, said pistachio accounted for 67% of total exports (in terms of value) with 204,000 tons worth $1.37 billion, registering an 88% and 43% growth in weight and value respectively compared with the previous year (fiscal 2019-20).
Iran’s annual domestic demand for pistachio amounts to between 35,000 and 45,000 tons, accounting for 20% of the total output.
On average, Iran exports 80% of its total pistachio yields.
Iran and the US are the world’s biggest producers of pistachio. The US output has overtaken Iran’s in recent years though the quality of the Iranian crop is widely said to be superior than that of the US.
In addition, Iran has more diverse varieties of pistachio than the US.
Iranian pistachios have an unrivaled flavor. This taste advantage is improved by roasting Iranian pistachios at higher temperatures.
According to Ratinkhosh R&D Team, Iranian pistachios have more capability for roasting. Due to their higher unsaturated oil content, they can be roasted at between 160 and 180°C. Excellent roasting with higher temperature brings out the unique flavor of the pistachio.
World’s Biggest Exporter of Dates
Dates exports stood at 339,000 tons worth $297 million in the fiscal 2020-21, registering a 46% and 43% growth respectively in weight and value compared with the fiscal 2019-20.
Muslim countries are the main customers of Iranian dates: Persian Gulf littoral states and Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
The Commonwealth of Independent States and Russia as well as European countries such as Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands are other importers of Iranian dates.
However, India is the main export destination of Iranian dates, according to Meqdad Takallouzadeh, secretary of the National Association of Iranian Dates.
Noting that consumption of dates during the holy month of Ramadan accounts for 50% of annual consumption of dates, Takallouzadeh said domestic demand for dates is estimated to stand at 700,000 tons while per capita date consumption in Iran is around 7-8 kilograms per year.
Zahra Jalili-Moqaddam, an Agriculture Ministry official, said Iran is the world’s second biggest producer of dates with an annual output of around 1.2 million tons. The figure accounts for 10% of the global output.
Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Pakistan, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Oman and Libya are the top 10 producers of dates in the world. Egypt has the biggest production and Algeria has the biggest area of land under date cultivation.
"Iran is the biggest exporter of dates in the world," Chairman of the National Association of Iranian Dates Mohsen Rashid Farrokhi told while with Saudi Arabia and Tunisia share the third spot in the export front.
More than a dozen types of dates are produced in Iran.
Dates are mainly produced in six Iranian provinces, namely Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr and Fars.
World’s 3rd Biggest Producer of Raisins
Raisins exports hit 176,000 tons worth $234 million, registering a 48% and 45% growth in weight and value respectively compared with the corresponding period of the previous year.
According to Darab Hassani, an official of 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 an average of 200,000 tons of raisins are produced every year, ILNA reported.
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 at 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 Persian Gulf littoral countries.
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.
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 Agriculture 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 Research Department with the Agricultural Planning, Economic and Rural Development Research Institute affiliated with the 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 vineyards that yield 350,000 tons of the fruit every year.
Some 58% of these vineyards are in Malayer, which produce more than 203,000 tons of grapes.
Jowzan Valley 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 unique techniques. Farmers process more than 40 grape products out of 130 grape varieties. This, together with higher yield per hectare, unique skills of gardeners and the right sugar level 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 locals' living standards, while giving a boost to local tourism and rural economy.