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The cultivation of aromatic and medicinal plants in Cyprus

G. Georgiou and A. Gavrilides
Department of Agriculture


Initiatives related to the cultivation of aromatic and medicinal plants in Cyprus began in 1991. During this year the "Project for the Development of Aromatic and Medicinal plants in Cyprus" was set up.

The project entails the following actions:

At the end of the evaluation of the trails it was found that all the aforementioned aromatic plants grow well in all parts of the island, but in the quality and quantity of production of plants is higher in semi-mountainous areas.

The main aromatic plants that are promoted by the Department of Agriculture are:

Oregano, Sage, Mint, Basil, Tarragon, and Lavender and to a lesser extent Marjoram, Bay, Dictamus, Rosemary, Mellssa, Thyme and Siderlitis. There is a great demand for such products in the countries of the E.U. and other countries because of their excellent quality, which is attributed to the favourable climatic conditions of Cyprus.


Medicinal herbs, culinary and aromatic plants in the
agriculture of Iran

S.Y. Riazi, Deputy General Director
Flowers, Ornamental plants, Medicinal herbs and Edible mushroom affairs
Ministry of Agriculture



Iran is located in the semi southern part of the north temperate zone of Asia, and extends into the Iranian plateau. Iran’s total area is 1 648 195 km2 and comprises mountains, plains, salt deserts, rangelands, forestlands, inland waters and plantations. Approximately 33% of the total land (51 million hectares) is characterized by good to medium fertility. The average rainfall is about 400 billion cubic meters. Nearly 70% of this amount evaporates. At least 70 billion cubic meters of water is used in the agriculture sector.

The rangelands cover approximately 90 million hectares which extend from the north Elburz mountains to the western areas and other parts of the country. Based on the type of vegetation, the rangelands can be classified as: i) Herb dominated grazing areas (14 million hectares); ii) Shrub dominated grazing areas (60 million hectares), which are situated at low elevation levels of the warmer regions; and iii) Desert grazing areas (approximately 16 million hectares). Forestland covers only 7% of the total land area (12.4 million hectares). The forest regions of the country are classified into the following five categories:

  1. Caspian forest area - The area comprises 1.9 million hectares which extend to the northern part of the Elburz mountain range in a relatively narrow shaped band. These forests are the only forests in the country that are used commercially for wood production.

  2. Semi humid Arasbaran forests - The area comprises about 144 000 hectares in the East Azarbaijan province.

  3. Zagros forest areas - This region comprises over 4.7 million hectares which extend from west Azarbaijan to Firouzabad in the Fars province. The area is characterized by over grazing and harsh climatic conditions.

  4. Desert forest areas - This area comprises about 2.97 million hectares.

  5. The Gulf and Oman forest areas - These cover nearly 2.58 million hectares and spread over parts of the west and south including the southern sea borderlands. Due to severe climatic factors, the vegetation in this area is in a poor state.

Agricultural land comprises a total of 23.8 million hectares where wheat, barely, rice, cotton, sugar beet, pulses, oil seeds, vegetables, fruits, and to some extent, medicinal herbs and plants are grown. With the Persian Gulf in the South and the Caspian sea in the North, in addition to extensive inland water resources, Iran also has a great potential for production of edible and non edible fishes and other aquatic products.

Agriculture is the most important sector of Iran's economy. The added value’s share of agriculture next to the petroleum is about 17.6%. The value in general, is considerable. The volume of agricultural exports for 1996 amounted to 627 000 tons. Dried fruits represented 60% of this figure.

Pistachio, both as an edible dried nut and medicinal fruit, is a very valuable product. With an annual export of nearly 56 000 tons, pistachio and its kernel constitute one of the most important non-oil export commodities.

Date (i.e. fruit of palm tree) is another major exportable commodity. The main regions under palm cultivation are Khuzistan, Fars, Aerman, Boushehr, Oistan, Eaiuchestan, and some desert marginal lands. The whole land under date cultivation is estimated to produce 538 520 tons annually.

Grape, either fresh or in the form of raisin, is another important product. Vineyards extend from 2 500 meters altitude in the Salavatabad gorge in Hamedan to desert low lands in Sistan and Daluchestan. One fourth of the grape harvested is dried and exported as raisin. 47 727 tons of raisin are exported each year, which amounts to 10% of the world export of this product.

Citrus is considered yet another highly important horticulture product. Citrus is valued for its strong vitamin content and for the different flavour it adds to food dishes. In addition, citrus peel contains odorous essence, and its residue is used in animal feeding. The main areas under citrus cultivation in the country are Ahuzistan, Aazenderan, Fars, Kerman, and regions bordering Oman and Persian Gulf sea. The total areas under plantation exceed 913950 hectares with an annual production of over 2 146 925 tons.

Pomegranate is also grown in Iran. The main production centers are found in Saveh, Yazed, Kashan, Khorasan, Isfahan, Ars, Kermanshahan, and Mazanderan. Pomegranate is used as a fresh fruit or is made into a seasonal sauce. Its skin and seeds are largely used in industry, dye making, and pharmaceutics. The area under pomegranate cultivation is estimated to be 540 594 hectares with an annual production of 496 215 tons, and an annual export volume of 9 532 tons.

Medicinal, culinary, and aromatic herbs have traditionally been used in Iran for generations and they have always been regarded as an integral part of farming and agriculture. Atraphaxix spinosa, fenngreek, sweet root, almonds, Atropa belladonna, Salvadora persica, Nigella, and Anchusia officinalis are amongst some of the plants used by the Iranian people.

Currently, research on medicinal plants and herbs is taken into great consideration by the government and the private sector in Iran. Research is carried out by medical universities, pharmaceutical institutes, experimental farms, research centers, and agricultural faculties. The Horticulture Department of the Ministry of Agriculture now also deals with medicinal plants and herbs affairs.


Cumin is a herbaceous, annual plant which belongs to the Cyminum species and the Ambelifera family. Depending on climatic conditions, the plant height varies from 15-50 centimeters. The tape root grows at a right angle, elongated form and penetrates the earth up to 30 cm in depth. The root thickness is approximately 0.5 cm. Its flowers are generally small, white, or slightly violet, and made up of five parts. The calyx, flowering part or cup, is composed of 5 sharp, pointed epicalyx. The corolla is made up of 5 petals.

The main areas of cumin cultivation in Iran are: East of Khorasan, Sabzevar (at an altitude of 880 metres), between Sarakhs and Salehabad (at an altitude of 700-900 meters), Birjand, Gonabad, Sorkhe, Garmsar and Kerman. The plant fits into the farming pattern of any given area. It has a short growing season of 100-120 days, needs little irrigation, adapts easily to various soils, and requires medium fertility soil. Sowing takes place from end December to mid March. In the plant rotation, cumin follows the summer crops and its maintenance has little or no effect on the progress of other cultivated crops. The plant needs to be weeded regularly, especially during the early growing stage, as it has no resistance to weeds. As a result, chemical weed controlling is practiced extensively. In India, 1 kg per hectare of "Fluchloralin" is recommended, both as a pre-plant and pre-emergence toxicant. On the other hand, cumin is subjected to few insects such as aphids, weevils, mites, thrips, and some plant diseases like Alteranaria, Fusaria, polygomi, Eloidogyme, Incogneta, and Pseudemona cumin.

Harvesting takes place from the end of April to the first half of May. The yield per hectares varies from 200-1000 non-irrigated and irrigated farms. The area under cultivation of cumin is 50 000 hectares with an annual production of 50 000 tons.

Cumin is mainly used as a remedy for stomach acidity, epilepsy, heartburn, colic, cough, constipation and flatulence. It is used to increase the milk of mothers during breast feeding and constitutes an ingredient of baby food together with other nutrients. Cumin is also used as a toxicant for the eradication of harmful insects, and as a repellent in pest control. It is commonly used as an additive in confectionery and in the food and beverage industries. Cumin also finds useful application in the perfumery business.


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