EghtesadOnline: Cold weather in spring has inflicted 130 trillion rials ($456 million) in damage to pistachio orchards in Kerman Province, says the chairman of Kerman Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.
“This is only our preliminary estimate on direct damage to orchards. If we take the entire pistachio production chain into account, the losses will have to be multiplied,” Mehdi Tabibzadeh was quoted as saying by the news portal of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Otaghiranonline.ir.
Mohammad Reza Mousavi Torabi, the head of the Agriculture Commission of Kerman Chamber of Commerce, says around 180,000 hectares of pistachio orchards were hit by the cold after the start of the current Iranian year (March 21), with three-fifths of them experiencing more than 50% damage.
He added that pistachio production this year is expected to decline by 65,000 tons and the quality of the remaining yield will certainly drop.
Kerman’s Governor General Ali Zeynivand says preliminary estimates show that the pistachio industry has suffered 200 trillion rials ($700 million) in losses, adding that the figure equals 8% of the province’s annual GDP.
With around 212,000 hectares of pistachio orchards, Kerman Province in southeast Iran is considered the country’s production hub of the nut.
Extreme cold has inflicted around 400 trillion rials ($1.4 billion) in damage to orchards across the country over the past month, an Agriculture Ministry official said recently.
“Orchards in the provinces of Kerman, Yazd, Fars, Isfahan, Khorasan Razavi, North Khorasan, Khuzestan, Ardabil, Hamedan, Markazi, Qom, Semnan, Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad and Golestan were the hardest hit,” Mohammad Mehdi Boroumand was also quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
He noted that a total of 450,000 hectares of orchards were damaged, including 202,000 hectares of pistachio orchards, 66,000 hectares of almond plantations, 47,000 hectares of vineyards and 20,000 hectares of walnut orchards.
The Agriculture Insurance Fund is working to compensate part of the huge losses, he added.
Q1-3 Fiscal 2021-22 Exports Top $730 Million
A total of 111,122 tons of pistachio worth $738.46 were exported from Iran to 70 countries during the first nine months of the current fiscal year (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 accounted for 96,771 tons worth $581.4 million of total exports with 67 countries as destinations.
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 from Iran, 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.
Moreover, 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 added that a total of 358 tons 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 in pistachio than the US.
Iranian pistachios have a world-famous flavor that is unrivaled. This taste advantage is improved by roasting Iranian pistachios at higher temperatures, because of their higher unsaturated oil content. This high-temperature roasting reduces any bacterial pollution, which may be present in the raw product.
According to Ratinkhosh R&D Team, Iranian pistachios have more capability for roasting. Because of their higher unsaturated oil content, they can be roasted at 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 were produced last year to register a 21% decline compared with the preceding year’s yields, according to an Agriculture Ministry official, Darab Hassani.
He said the main reason for the decline in production was extreme weather, i.e., extreme cold in spring and unprecedented high temperatures in summer, “as well as the fact that the pistachio tree is alternate bearing”, IRNA reported.
Alternate bearing trees may produce a greater than average amount of yields one year, called “on-year”, and a lower than average amount the following year, called “off-year”.
In the fiscal 2020-21, he noted, 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.”
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 and water shortage on decline in pistachio production and said: “In the short run, water scarcity is expected to decrease 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 is more, during the past years, new orchards have been planted in western and northwestern provinces that are now bearing fruit. This means production, and exports in turn 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 drastically fallen, Mehr News Agency reported.
The Majlis Research Center has released a list of Iranian provinces in a 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 last 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 production of agronomic crops, as well as 26% in horticultural products, 13% in fisheries and livestock, and 11% in forage crops, he added.
“In addition, 4% of the total damage are to blame on challenges created in water transportation infrastructures, pools, pipes, aqueducts 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 the precipitation rate in the last crop year has decreased by 54% compared with the year before and 41% compared with the long-time average, the official said beside the decline in precipitation rate, increase in heat waves and evaporation as well as the inappropriate distribution of rainfalls have resulted in drought and its adverse consequences on the agriculture sector.
“Reports by Iran Meteorological Organization say 92% of the country has been affected by drought at different levels: 20% of the country’s area face extreme drought, 28% severe drought, 25% moderate drought and 19% of the country are going through stages of being abnormally dry, while only 8% of the country show normal conditions,” he said.