EghtesadOnline: Iran’s date palms are being smuggled from the country’s southern provinces, Bushehr in particular, to the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, according to the head of the National Association of Iranian Dates.
“These precious trees are being uprooted and smuggled via small vessels to countries such as Kuwait and Qatar,” Mohsen Rashid Farrokhi was also quoted as saying by ILNA.
Although the smuggling is not being practiced on a large scale, there is a need for the Agriculture Ministry to take urgent action and put an end to this act, which is robbing the country of its national reserves and damaging the environment, he added.
Farrokhi noted that this issue, which has been going on for a while, has to be taken seriously, because the country may lose its best trees within a few years. He asked related officials to penalize the culprits engaged in trading palm trees.
According to Zahra Jalili Moqaddam, an Agriculture Ministry official, Iran is the world’s second biggest producer of dates with an annual production of around 1.2 million tons that account 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. While Egypt has the biggest producer, Algeria has the biggest area of land under date cultivation.
A dozen types of dates are produced in Iran with per capita consumption standing at more than 3 kilograms per year.
Date is mainly produced in six Iranian provinces, namely Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr and Fars.
A total of 1.2 million tons of different types of dates were produced in Iran during the last fiscal year (March 2020-21), which are almost the same amount as in the previous year.
“Exports over the period were hampered due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Farrokhi told Young Journalists Club.
North American and European Union countries, as well as Russia, India and China, are the main destinations of Iranian dates.
Last year, production from Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan and Khuzestan accounted for 800,000 tons (70%) of the total output.