Economy, Business And Markets

Orange Farmers Upbeat About This Year’s Yield

Orange Farmers Upbeat About This Year’s Yield
Orange Farmers Upbeat About This Year’s Yield

Last year the Ministry of Agricultural Jihad enforced the ban on fruit imports to support domestic production.

Runaway orange prices, particularly at the time of peak demand i.e. before Norouz – the traditional Iranian New Year holiday which started March 21 this year, raised the complaints of experts. They believe the ministry failed in the very first year since it assumed office to adjust the market. There are also experts who believe that weather conditions of late badly affected the volume of production and that it is not fair to blame all shortcomings on the ministry, Forsat-e Emrooz reported.

The director general at Tropical and Subtropical Fruits Department in the ministry claims that the ministry was inundated with requests from traders who were eager to import oranges last October.

“Just one businessman wanted to import 200 million kilograms of the fruit. Giving the green light to such excessive imports would have been perceived by farmers as another nail in their coffin. They were the ones who had to bear the brunt of the consequences of unbridled imports. They would have surely lost their jobs,” Abolqasem Hassanpour added.

Figures show that Iran’s orange per capita consumption stands at 45 to 50 kilograms. This is while the country’s per capita production is roughly 55 kilograms. In terms of the area under the cultivation of citrus fruits, Iran ranks seventh in the world with more than 231,000 hectares; 141,000 hectares of which pertain to orange trees.

The northern province of Mazandaran comes in first by growing 50% of the country’s citrus fruits. “Meager supply of orange before Norouz was the aftermath of February 2014’s cold spell,” said the head of Mazandaran’s Agricultural Jihad Organization, Delavar Heydarpour. The general manager of Trade and Investment Office at the ministry had announced earlier that there would be no shortage of orange and that “we even have enough orange to export.”

A visit to Mazandaran orange orchards suggests that this year’s production is clearly more than that of last year. Almost all farmers agree that production has nearly doubled over last year. Current estimates suggest that the province will produce more than 1.5 million tons of oranges by the yearend, Heydarpour said.

“We are seeking to export the fruit and to that end we have held meetings with Russian delegations. This would have the added benefit of adjusting the market,” he noted.

The official also predicts that as of November, around 100,000 tons of orange will be exported to the Persian Gulf littoral states and Russia. He viewed lack of proper infrastructure such as trucks used for transporting fruit as the main hurdle in the way of exports and said Iran’s production of orange in the current year will reach 5.2 million tons which is enough to meet the domestic needs.

“The surplus can be exported,” he noted.

The managing director of Mazandaran Province Farmers Union criticized the government for failing to take advantage of the private sector unions in order to adjust the market last year. “It is our hope to see the private sector have a share in the control and adjustment of the domestic market,” Mohammad Reza Shabani added.