Economy, Business And Markets

Organic Production Catching On in Iran

Domestic Economy Desk
Iran is currently the 43rd biggest producer of organic food among 176 countries.Iran is currently the 43rd biggest producer of organic food among 176 countries.
Some 49,000 hectares of farmlands are under the cultivation of organic products in Iran

Iran Organic Association has devised an ID for organic food products in the form of an 18-digit code containing all information regarding the producer, place of production and the company in charge of inspection to name a few, the head of IOA said.

"The information can be retrieved by entering the code on the association’s website," Reza Nourani also told Financial Tribune in an interview.

According to Nourani, as per the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, pesticides and chemical fertilizers are not used in cultivating organic agricultural products.

They are produced using authorized raw materials under the management of international inspection companies.

Organic products should be observed and managed over two to four years to ensure they are produced with natural, clean materials and away from any chemical substances.

Genetically modified crops cannot be cultivated alongside organic ones.

IFOAM is the worldwide umbrella organization for the organic agriculture movement, which represents close to 800 affiliates in 117 countries.

Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, its stated mission is to "lead, unite and assist the organic movement in its full diversity" with the vision being "worldwide adoption of ecologically, socially and economically sound systems, based on the principles of organic agriculture".

Nourani noted that Iran Organic Association is an IFOAM member.

> Production, Consumption

IFOAM defines organic agriculture as "a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved".

According to Hossein Mahmoudi, the head of IOA's Training Commission, the latest data show 49,000 hectares of farmlands are under the cultivation of organic products in Iran.

Thanks to the association's efforts, Iran has joined the ranks of world organic producers.

Nourani said the country is currently the 43rd biggest producer of organic food among 176 countries.

Iran produces many organic products, including but not limited to nuts, barberry, raisins, pomegranate, olive oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, rice, lentil, grains, honey and meat.

"However, looking at the global picture, the range of organic products in Iran is not extensive," he said.

The IOA chief said Fars and Khorasan Razavi are Iranian provinces with high potential in the production of organic products.

"Consumption of organic products is growing in the world. The annual growth rate in organic products demand is 20-25% in Europe and in the Americas," Nourani said.

"Unfortunately there is no reliable and precise data on consumption of organic products in Iran, but I can say that it is really low."

Mahmoudi said Denmark, Switzerland, Germany and Austria are among the top consumers of organic products.

> Health Benefits

The excessive use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers is known to cause different kinds of diseases.

“Considering the rise in the number of people suffering from cancer and other refractory diseases [that resist treatment], I think more and more awareness about the need to use organic products is growing,” Nourani said.

"The IOA holds talks with hospitals and advises them to consider organic foods for their patients."

According to Nourani, organic products might be more expensive than non-organic ones by 15-25%, "but if you consider the treatment costs, including staying in hospital and price of drugs, you will realize that organic products are not very expensive".

The global organic industry reportedly has a turnover of over $80 billion.

> Lack of Gov't Support

The IOA calls on the government to lend financial support to organic food producers.

According to Azad Omrani, a member of IOA's board of directors, the budget bill for the next fiscal year (March 2018-19) has failed to allocate any funds for organic production, Young Journalist Club reported.

He believes production of organic food is an investment, as a considerable amount of budget is allocated to health and treatment every year.

“The development of organic products will encourage farmers to produce healthier crops, which will eventually lead to prevention of diseases in the country,” Omrani said.

The 10th Organic Week Festival was held in Tehran from Dec. 13 to 22, 2017, for encouraging people to use more organic and natural products. Over 120 organic producers took part in the event and showcased their latest products.


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