EghtesadOnline: Some $550 million are spent annually for importing four types of tropical fruits to Iran, an official with the Agriculture Ministry’s Horticultural Affairs Department said.
“These fruits are bananas, coconuts, mangos and pineapples. However, $450 million of the figure pertain to the import of bananas alone,” Shahin Rostampour was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
The official said that the Seventh Five-Year Development Plan (2023-28) has mandated that the government provide facilities required to cultivate tropical fruits in the southern Makran Coast.
Makran is a semi-desert coastal strip stretched along southeastern Iran to Pakistan’s Balochistan and borders the coastlines of Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman. The Iranian part of Makran Coast borders two southern provinces of Hormozgan and Sistan-Baluchestan.
“The region has favorable weather and arable land, making it an ideal location for tropical fruit production. Yet, the problem in the Makran region is water shortage. If water desalination systems were implemented and water demand is met, Iran can produce up to 50% of its domestic need for tropical fruits by the end of the Seventh Plan .”
The development plans are devised by the government and ratified by the parliament every five years, since 1991. Their primary aim is to help realize the objectives enshrined in the 20-year Vision Plan.
Rostampour noted that the Agriculture Ministry experts have identified and studied suitable for such horticultural activities and agreements have been reached with five investment companies to carry out infrastructure projects and purchase water desalination devices from local and foreign companies.
“We are willing to use the latest technologies available in fruit cultivation in the unique climate of Makran Coast. The Agriculture Ministry welcomes companies and businesses willing to invest in setting up tropical fruit orchards using energy and water-efficient methods and technologies.”
Latest data show a total of 92,947 tons of bananas were produced on 4,838 hectares in the fiscal March 2019-20, which was adequate to meet 20% of domestic demand for this tropical fruit, according to Mohammad Mehdi Boroumandi, an official with the Agriculture Ministry.
“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.
“The provinces of Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, southern Kerman, Fars and Bushehr are the main producers of banana in Iran. Notably, the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan accounts for 99.8% of the country’s banana output,” he said.
“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,” Zahra Jalili-Moqaddam, the director general of Agriculture Ministry’s Tropical and Subtropical Fruits Bureau, told IRNA.
“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. 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.”
Sistan-Baluchestan’s tropical climate enables the province to produce banana, 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.