News ID: 217012
Published: 0304 GMT June 20, 2018

Iran can turn into region's agricultural hub: Ex-minister

Iran can turn into region's agricultural hub: Ex-minister

Iran can turn into a hub for exports of agricultural products in the region if it effectively battles water crisis and manages water shortage, said a former Iranian agriculture minister.

"If we properly manage the shortage of water in the country, we can both meet our domestic needs and turn into a key exporter of agricultural products (in the region)," Mohammadreza Eskandari said at a conference in Tehran, IRNA reported.

"Before 1979, the volume of Iran's agricultural products stood at 25-27 million tons annually. This amount has reached 110 million tons per year," he said.

He underlined the need for preventing unsustainable and wasteful farming practices as 92 percent of the country's water resources are reportedly used up by such practices.

In February, the government said it, amid low precipitation and water shortage, planned to place restrictions on the cultivation of crops in areas of the country where underground water resources are at alarming levels.

Although water scarcity is one of the biggest environmental challenges facing Iran, inefficient management of the valuable resource is largely to blame for a crisis that has emerged over the years.

The country's nearly two-decade struggle with drought, combined with high consumption and waste, has caused renewable water resources to drop under 120 billion cubic meters. However, by some accounts, that figure is closer to 88 bcm.

Located in one of the world's most water-stressed regions, Iran's average precipitation rate has been lower than the global average for at least 10 years. Some 37 million Iranians are said to be living in water-stressed regions.

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