FAO in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran at a Glance

Physical features and geography

The Islamic Republic of Iran is located in Western Asia, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, and covering a land area of 1,636 million square kilometres. It borders on: Afghanistan (936 km border), Armenia (35 km), Azerbaijan (including the Azerbaijan-Naxcivan enclave) (611 km), Iraq (1,458 km), Pakistan (909 km), Turkey (499 km) and Turkmenistan (992 km). The coastline of Iran is 2,440 km long and includes 740 km on the Caspian Sea. Much of Iran sits on the Iranian plateau and is at high altitude (Tehran, for example is ca. 1200 m above sea-level) while the Caspian Sea lies at –28 m. The country comprises 14% arable land, 8% forest, 55% natural (non-arable) pastures and 23% desert. About half of the country is mountainous terrain and most urban settlements are located in the foothills.

Agriculture Sector in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has a total population of approximately 80 million. They live in a total area of 1,648,195 sq km. approximately 74 % of the population live in urban areas with a growth annual rate of 1.97%. Remaining 26% are inhabitants of rural areas with a growth annual rate of -0.98%.  I.R. Iran is a predominantly agricultural country.

The core governance structure of the agricultural sector lies within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture Jahad (MAJ) while other national entities like the Department of Environment, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Ministry of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Welfare and Ministry of Interior have relevant responsibilities to the food security, even though FAO may not have direct support activities with them.

The 6th Five-Year National Development Plan (6th FYNDP) of Iran, finalized in March 2017, covers the period 2017-2021. The 6th FYNDP is an ambitious plan that is founded on three main pillars and objectives: i) resilient economy, ii) advancing science and technology, and iii) promoting cultural excellence and stability. Under these pillars, the 6th FYNDP priority areas include: water and environment, food safety and production of strategic commodities, enabling the poor and disadvantaged, and knowledge-based economy and society; hence, pursuing efforts to ensure people’s regular access to sufficient high-quality nutritious food is pivotal to securing a resilient economy and promoting stability.

Significant progress has been attained over the past three decades in reducing food insecurity in Iran. Since the 1990s, the number of people suffering from hunger has steadily declined. Iran has had the greatest reduction in the Global Hunger Index ranking in the Middle East. However, in order to reduce the risk of food insecurity and strengthen the contribution of the agricultural sector to the national economy, agriculture, forestry and fisheries need to be more productive whilst safeguarding the natural resources.

The depletion of water resources and land degradation, are further exacerbated by the adverse impacts of climate change. These challenges call for programmes that reinforce the resilience of rural communities as well as their livelihoods and hosting ecosystems to the threats posed by such plights. The issues faced by the country in this respect are comparable to those of other countries in the region.

FAO has been traditionally collaborating with other UN organizations, promoting joint initiatives and advocacy campaigns, pursuing synergies through intensive interaction.  Potentials for renewed partnerships in the future are significant in this area.