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EghtesadOnline: A total of 166,000 tons of watermelons have been harvested from 4,655 hectares since the beginning of autumn to meet domestic demand in the runup to Yalda Night – the eve of the first day of the winter solstice.

Hossein Asghari, an Agriculture Ministry official, also told IRNA that the volume will be used to exclusively supply the provincial markets in Hormozgan, Khuzestan, Fars, Bushehr and Ilam. 

The official noted that a total of 3.18 million tons of watermelons have been harvested from 83,937 hectares in the current crop year.

“Last year’s production hit 3.7 million tons, around 210,000 tons of which were marketed for Yalda Night,” he said.

Asghari added that watermelon exports in the last Iranian year (March 2020-21) exceeded 703,000 tons worth $156.5 million.

The main export destinations for Iranian watermelon are the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, Russia, Turkey and members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Agricultural experts have frequently warned against the exports of watermelon amid the acute shortage of water in the country.

Expressing his disapproval regarding the sheer volume of Iran’s watermelon exports amid the water crisis, Reza Nourani, the head of National Agricultural Products Association of Iran, says the cultivation of each kilogram of watermelon requires around 286 tons of water.  

“The fact that the main agricultural crops imported into Iran is wheat, which needs much less water to grow, and that the main exported agricultural product is one requiring such a high volume of water is testament to the extent of mismanagement,” he was quoted as saying by the news portal of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.

Marking the longest night of the year, which usually falls between December 21 and 22, a nocturnal celebration is observed in Iran. The event, celebrated in the country since ancient times, is called Yalda. 

Yalda Night is celebrated 40 days prior to the Zoroastrian Fire Festival or Sadeh and is a social occasion, as family and friends get together for an enjoyable night for dining and reciting poetry. Dried fruits, roasted nuts and seeds, as well as fresh winter fruits are often served. 

Watermelon is also a specialty alongside pomegranate, persimmon and medlar. This year Yalda falls on Dec. 21.

 

watermelon Yalda Night