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The Iranian Pistachio Industry (Farming)

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The pistachio industry in Iran is made up of three main sectors: farming, post harvest processing and trade; each is explained in separate posts:

Farming

Due to the botanical characteristics of the pistachio tree, there are limited geographical locations on the planet with favorable climatic conditions for economically-viable pistachio production. Pistachios have been cultivated in Iran for thousands of years. Commercial cultivation of pistachios in Iran started expanding about one hundred years ago. The upward trend of production has continued ever since.

It is estimated that the amount of pistachios produced in Iran rose from around 2,000 tons in 1950s to about 25,000 tons in 1975. The average nationwide production in the closing years of the millennium exceeded 150,000 tons.

At present, around 150,000 farmers harvest the crop from about 290,000 hectares of pistachio orchards nationwide; more than 70% of the production is coming from small scale producers (those who manage orchards of 2 hectares or less). Currently, annual pistachio production capacity in an “on” year is up to 280,000 metric tons. This is from orchards in Kerman, Yazd, Khorasan, Fars, Semnan, Markazi and some other provinces. Despite its declining role due to a province-wide water shortage, Kerman will still have the dominant share of orchards and production for the coming decade. It should be noted that the decline in Kerman’s production is more than compensated by the production increase in other provinces.

All pistachio orchards in Iran are hand-harvested. Average annual yield of bearing Iranian pistachio orchards is 800 kg per hectare. Individual farms may produce from 300 to 3000 kg per hectare. The gradual decrease in yield of pistachio orchards in Iran is mainly caused by a severe decrease in the quantity and quality of irrigation water coming from deep wells. This malaise results from over-issuance of government permits to bore deep wells in a diminishing aquifer. The problem is exasperated by the breaking up of the orchards to smaller units resulting from inheritance laws.

Source: Iran Pistachio Association

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