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EghtesadOnline: Atotal of 111,122 tons of pistachio worth $738.46 were exported from Iran to 70 countries during the current fiscal year’s first nine months (March 21-Dec. 21), registering a 19% year-on-year decline in both weight and value, according to Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.

Exports of in-shell pistachio to 67 countries accounted for 96,771 tons worth $581.4 million.

China with 32,713 tons worth $188.79 million, India with 10,859 tons worth $71.69 million, Russia with 6,710 tons worth $39.29 million, Iraq with 6,233 tons worth $37.46 million and Kyrgyzstan with 6,150 tons worth $37.46 million were the top five export destinations of in-shell pistachio, IRNA reported.

A total of 13,745 tons worth $188.79 million of shelled pistachio were exported to 54 countries during the period, the IRICA spokesman added. 

India with 3,171 tons worth $34.3 million, Germany with 2,902 tons worth $33.86 million, the UAE with 1,826 tons worth $19.94 million, Iraq with 1,780 tons worth $19.09 million and Turkey with 960 tons worth $10.37 million were the biggest importers of shelled pistachio from Iran.

About 275 tons of slivered pistachio worth $3.36 million were exported to 18 countries during the same period. 

The UAE with 99 tons worth $1.41 million, Qatar with 45 tons worth $540,297, Iraq with 32 tons worth $357,134, Turkey with 23.6 tons worth $304,554 and Germany with 22.3 tons worth $241,056 were the top export destinations of slivered pistachio.

The official noted that a total of 358 worth $1.45 million of “pistachio-related products” were exported to 13 countries, mainly to Iraq, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Armenia.

Iran and the US are the world’s biggest producers of pistachio. The US output has overtaken Iran’s in recent years, although the quality of the Iranian crop is widely said to be superior to that of the US.

In addition, Iran has more diverse varieties of pistachio than the US.

Iranian pistachios have a world-famous flavor that is unrivaled. This taste advantage is improved by roasting at higher temperatures, because of higher unsaturated oil content. This high-temperature roasting reduces any bacterial pollution that may be present in raw product.

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 to 180°C (hot stream temperature). Excellent roasting with higher temperature brings out the unique flavor of the pistachio.



Decline in Production

A total of 281,000 tons of pistachio have been produced this year to register a 21% decline compared with last year’s yields, says an Agriculture Ministry official, Darab Hassani.

He added that the reasons for the decline in production was extreme weather, i.e., extreme cold in spring and unprecedented high temperatures in the summer, “as well as the fact that the pistachio tree is alternate bearing”, IRNA reported.

Alternate bearing trees may produce a greater than average yields in a year called “on-year” and a lower than average amount in an “off-year”.     

Last fiscal year (March 2020-21), he said, 203,000 tons of pistachio worth $1.37 billion were exported, registering an 86.24% and 41.05% rise compared with the previous year.

“In the last crop year, Iran’s pistachio production stood at 337,000 tons, indicating a 5.86% year-on-year fall,” he added.

Pistachio crop year starts in September and ends in the August of the following year.

Iran’s main pistachio production hubs are Kerman, Khorasan Razavi, Yazd, Fars, South Khorasan, Semnan, Markazi, Qom, Sistan-Baluchestan, Tehran and Isfahan.

The Agriculture Ministry official earlier referred to the impact of low precipitation levels, water shortage on decline in pistachio production and said, “In the short run, water scarcity is expected to reduce production in Iran’s central and eastern provinces but since the plant is resistant to soil salinity and needs little irrigation, predictions are that production will bounce back very soon. What’s more, during the past few years, new orchards have been planted in western and northwestern provinces, which are now bearing fruit. This means production and exports are to see a rise over the course of a few years.” 

Iran’s agriculture sector is facing the threat of water shortage.

In a report, Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture has warned agricultural officials of an imminent drought that would cripple the country’s agricultural activities and hamper economic growth in this sector in the current Iranian year (March 2021-22).

The ICCIMA report says precipitation levels have fallen drastically, Mehr News Agency reported.

Majlis Research Center has released a list of Iranian provinces in critical state of water shortage: Isfahan, Hormozgan, Sistan-Baluchestan, Ardabil, Fars, Markazi and Khorasan Razavi.

“Drought has inflicted 670 trillion rials ($2.4 billion) in losses on Iran’s agriculture sector since the beginning of the current crop year,” Mohammad Mousavi, director general of the Agriculture Ministry’s Crisis Management Department, said in June 2021.

Assessments carried out over 11.2 million hectares of farmlands in 30 provinces show 43% of the total losses pertained to the decline in the production of agronomic crops, 26% to horticultural products, 13% to fisheries and livestock, and 11% to forage crops, he said in June.

“In addition, 4% of the total damage are to blame on challenges created in water transportation infrastructures, pools, pipes, qanats and springs, and 3% of losses can be attributed to water supply complications and the animal feed used by nomads,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency. 

Noting that precipitation rate in the current crop year has decreased by 54% compared with last year and 41% compared with the long-time average, Mousavi said, “Beside the decline in precipitation rate, rising heat waves and evaporation, as well as the inappropriate distribution of rainfalls, have resulted in drought that had an adverse impact on the agriculture sector.

“Reports by Iran Meteorological Organization show that 92% of the country have been affected by drought at different levels: 20% of the country’s area are facing extreme drought, 28% severe drought, 25% moderate drought and 19% of the country are going through stages of becoming abnormally dry; only 8% of the country are having normal conditions,” he added.

Mousavi noted that emergency plans put together by the Agriculture Ministry underline the management of strategic reserves, animal feed and essential goods in proportion to the decline in production. 

“Easing pressure on groundwater resources and soil in the country, fair distribution of pressure or weight of water shortage in different sectors, when used as potable water, or in agriculture or industrial sector, has been underscored in this plan,” he said.


Iran exports