Economy, Domestic Economy

Kiwifruit’s Rise to Prominence

Kiwifruit’s Rise to Prominence
Kiwifruit’s Rise to Prominence

It took the hairy, tough-skinned kiwifruit four decades to squeeze itself among Iranians’ fruits of choice. The past Nowruz - the traditional Iranian new year holiday- shortage of oranges was somehow eased by the abundance of kiwifruit in the market. At present, Iran is the seventh largest producer of the fruit in the world.

Kiwi is grown best in temperate climates with adequate summer heat. This makes the northern provinces of Mazandaran, Golestan and Gilan the main regions in Iran suitable for growing the fruit, Forsat-e Emrooz reported.

Mazandaran is the frontrunner, accounting for 70% of kiwi production in Iran.  Currently 6,000 hectares of the province is under kiwifruit cultivation and the production of 160,000 tons is estimated for this year.

The profit margin of kiwi sales is by far more than other agricultural products, which has tempted rice farmers to convert their paddies into kiwi fields in the past two decades. “This crop rotation has come to a halt as we speak and is not backed by the government,” said the head of Mazandaran Agricultural Jihad Organization, Delavar Heydarpour.

Director general at Tropical and Subtropical Fruits Department in the Agriculture Ministry Abolqasem Hassanpour views exports of underripe fruit to the neighboring countries as another challenge in the way of kiwi production and export business.

“Kiwifruit supply usually decreases in September and October since the production of southern hemisphere countries such as New Zealand, Chile and Peru comes to an end and there is a strong likelihood that traders pressure farmers into untimely harvest of the fruit,” Abolqasem Hassanpour said.

“Kiwis picked at this time are usually underripe and of very low quality. The foreign customer who buys the produce in the name of Iran gets the wrong idea about our products,” he added.

Also, according to deputy head of Agricultural Jihad Organization, Azizollah Shahdifar, the fruit would be vulnerable to pests and diseases if it is not harvested at the right time.

To prevent profiteering, the government has banned exports of kiwi up until October 7th so no one can lure farmers into out-of-season harvest, he noted.

Hassanpour predicts that the country’s total production of kiwi in the current year (started March 21) would reach 300,000 tons, which is in excess of domestic need.

“To adjust the markets, part of the kiwi yield needs to be exported just like oranges. The past couple years saw an average annual export of 76,000 tons worth $44 million, which accounts for a significant share in non-oil exports,” he concluded.

The best time for kiwi exports is from November onward, said the head of Mazandaran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Abdollah Mohajer, adding that to prevent untimely exports of the fruit, national interest come before the profits of producers and exporters.