FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 06/01 - IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (18 May)
IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (18 May)
The effect of three successive years of drought has seriously affected agriculture and livestock production. Last year’s drought was the worst since 1964 and affected an estimated 37 million people or over 50 percent of the population. Consequently the 2000 wheat production fell to around 8 million tonnes, some 700 000 tonnes lower than the already drought reduced crop in 1999 and almost 2 million tonnes below the average of last five year. As a result of the shortfall in crop output, imports are likely to be appreciably higher this year. In addition to cereals, the outlook is also bleak for livestock production, on which large segments of the population depend. It is expected that the drought will have a serious impact on vulnerable sectors of the population, particularly in rural areas, which have limited alternative sources of income.
An FAO mission that visited the country in late April confirmed a continuation of drought conditions in most areas. The winter-spring rainfall was significantly inadequate and 20 of the 28 provinces experienced precipitation shortfalls. Rainfall measurements in Bandar Turkman, Kurdhui, Guimishan and Banawa were 60-70 percent of that in the previous year, which was a severe drought year. The wheat and barley crop grown in December 2000-January 2001 were patchy and stunted in rainfed areas and in the fields where deepwell irrigation was insufficient. In some fields in Ghomishan and Banawar, three consecutive drought years in 1999-2001 have aggravated the salt intrusion problem with crops suffering both water inadequacy and salt-induced stress. On several farms, the Mission saw sheep grazing the abandoned crops.
Following a third consecutive year of drought, rivers including the Gorgon Rud (observed by the Mission) were drying up, reservoir levels were low and already low water tables were falling further in the worst-hit areas (the east, south and parts of the north). In Gulistan Province, about 45,000 ha of the 65,000 ha of wheat and barley planted last December/January had been affected by the drought.
The mission also indicated that cereal production in 2001 would be even lower than the ten-year low of 11.8 million tonnes (milled basis) last year. At the same time, the national herd of livestock will be further downsized owing to the declining area and quality of pastures as well as the scarcity of feedgrains, fodder and crop residues.