Water Shortage Biting Agribusiness
Economy, Domestic Economy

Water Shortage Biting Agribusiness

Iran's agribusiness faces a severe water shortage problem, so it's necessary to preserve its existing water resources to meet food demand, a senior advisor to agriculture minister said Saturday. 
"We need to learn from the experience of the Asian Productivity Organization in optimizing water use," Mohammadhossein Shariatmadar said, speaking on the sidelines of an APO workshop in Tehran. 
"We have 31 provinces with vast farmlands, so the agriculture sector can help a lot to increase overall economic productivity," he told IRNA Saturday.  
Iran's economic growth, according to the Fifth 5-Year Economic Development Plan, is estimated to reach 8% by March 2016. Productivity growth is expected to contribute 2.5% to that number.
APO activities mainly focus on helping member states increase their productivity rate, especially by improving the agriculture sector. Iran shares technical and scientific experience with fellow APO members. Tehran has hosted two APO meetings in the past two years.
According to Shariatmadar, the theme of this year's workshop is innovative farms and ways they help improve competitiveness in agriculture and food markets. Other topics include: strategic marketing, agribusiness and value chain management, role of precision engineering in agribusiness development, and agricultural waste management.
Iran's Water Problem
With an annual precipitation only a third of the global average, heavy overconsumption has ravaged Iran's available water resources. In a 2013 study by the World Resources Institute, Iran was ranked as the world’s 24th most water-stressed nation, putting it at extremely high risk of future water scarcity.
"Sometimes through a year, the  water authorities have to cut water lines used for farming in order to compensate for the lack of drinking water supplies," Shariatmadar said.
"APO workshops can help us find solutions to the country's water crisis by means of learning how to optimize use of water in farming."
Throughout Iran, landscapes are being transformed as scientists warn that the already arid country runs the risk of becoming a vast desert.
Lake Urmia, a large salt lake in Iran’s northwest, has been depleted to just 5 percent of its former volume over two decades. Isfahan's Zayandeh-Rud, a river which flowed through Iran’s heartland, is mostly a dry bed after being diverted and dammed to provide irrigation for farms.
The situation may be even worse than that, former agriculture minister Issa Kalantari said last month. “Iran, with 7,000 years of history, will not be liveable in 20 years’ time if the rapid and exponential destruction of groundwater resources continues,” he warned.


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