Key Challenges in Agriculture Sector
Economy, Domestic Economy

Key Challenges in Agriculture Sector

Agricultural is a primary sector of the economy and a major source of employment, government revenue, foreign capital and food. Development of a productive agricultural sector is necessary for growth of other economic sectors and the country’s overall socio-economic well-being. Meanwhile, as the sector makes direct use of natural resources such as soil and water, lack of prudent management in the sector can lead to devastating loss of resources and revenues.
An article published by the Persian economic daily Forsat-e Emruz reviews the key constraints and challenges facing Iran’s agricultural sector, calling on authorities to develop careful action plans to optimize the use of national resources and improve the quantity and quality of agricultural products.

  Water Scarcity
The issue of water scarcity in Iran is no new story. Located in an arid and semi-arid region, the country has experienced long spells of drought throughout history. Iran has an annual average precipitation rate of 252 millimeters, which is approximately one third of the global average.
Static water resources are water tables stored in geological formations, including groundwater and artesian water. Dynamic water resources on the other hand refer to the water supply which is recharged and renewed faster than its consumption. They include precipitation, surface and subsurface water runoff. What is most worrying is that irregular water consumption by various sectors, particularly the agriculture sector, is leading to depletion of static water resources. As of 2014, Iran was using 70% of its total renewable freshwater, far above the upper limit of 40% recommended according to international norms.
The precipitation report released by the energy ministry for the past Iranian calendar year (ended March 20,) indicates that most provinces recorded precipitation below – sometimes less than half – the long-term average annual precipitation. The water crisis is expected to deepen in the coming years, with groundwater tables predicted to be depleting in 90 years at current consumption rate.
The situation demands the authorities to adopt effective water resources planning and management strategies and enforce major reforms in farming and irrigation techniques.
  Science and Technology
The development of new technology is an important factor determining the future of agriculture. Modern technologies have the potential to speed up and improve the development of agricultural and dairy products, helping to grow, harvest, distribute, and consume food more efficiently.
While academic research is being carried out in agricultural sciences by students across the country, these studies are often conducted only with the aim of obtaining a college degree and do not translate into action in the fields. Iran’s agriculture remains largely traditional in the absence of proper measures by authorities to educate farmers about new technologies and supervise the process of planting and harvesting.

Agricultural marketing is one of the most problematic areas in the sector, adversely affecting both farmers and consumers. Transport, distribution and sale of agricultural products involve a number of middlemen that sometimes leads to three to five fold increase in the price of farm products. Current practices fail to support the farmers, with maximum benefit going to the dealers and distributors of farm products.

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