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Need to Expand Greenhouse Cultivation
Economy, Domestic Economy

Need to Expand Greenhouse Cultivation

Agricultural specialists believe that in view of the recurring nationwide droughts, progressive industrialization and migration of rural people to urban areas, all of which culminate in a decline in agricultural production, immediate measures need to be taken to maintain the country’s food security.
The best and most easily accessible solution to this, which has long been practiced by developed countries in the agricultural sector, is opting for greenhouses that employ the latest technology of farming methods to conserve water and boost productivity, the Persian daily Forsat-e Emrooz reported.
“At present, we have more than 9,500 hectares of greenhouses across the country. The figure needs to at least double, since not only will it give us the opportunity of exporting more, but it would also help us preserve natural resources, water in particular,” said Deputy Agriculture Minister Mohammad Ali Tahmasebi.
Noting that the main greenhouse crops grown in Iran are vegetables, ornamental flowers and strawberries in a descending order, Dariush Salempour, an official with the Agriculture Ministry, said the area under greenhouse cultivation will increase fivefold by the end of the Vision Plan in 2025.  
To achieve this goal, according to Tahmasebi, banking loans at 18% interest rate will be granted to potential investors to establish the required infrastructure, including water, gas and electricity.
“Expanding traditional greenhouses is out of the question. What we need today are modern greenhouses that make use of the latest technology and equipment,” he said.
Tahmasebi noted that based on studies conducted in the field, a systematic approach could lead to a 12-fold increase in production.
Complaining that many greenhouses are government-owned and inefficiently run, Majid Khalili Tehrani, the owner of Ave Greenhouse Complex, called on private sector investors to play a more prominent role in the sector.
He insisted that greenhouse projects are highly beneficial in that they enable the farmer to produce all year round while using far less amounts of energy and natural resources, whereas traditional farms devour 90% of the country’s water resources and are less productive.
“Greenhouse farming will not only significantly increase our yields, but will also create numerous permanent jobs—20 times as many compared to traditional methods. That is if the government lends its support,” he said.
According to Tehrani, if investors choose the right agricultural product, they can benefit from an added value of over 100%.  
Suggesting that processing factories be constructed near greenhouse complexes, he said this is a great advantage since it guarantees the flow of production.
Tehrani also complained of the frustrating bureaucratic procedures and restrictive regulations, which deter producers from embarking on innovations and developing their business.
“A good idea is to set up processing units as well as markets close to greenhouse complexes to supply the products directly to customers. This will help revive abandoned complexes and since brokers will be cut off from the chain, all the benefit would go to producers who can then set more reasonable prices on their products,” he said.  
According to First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, one of the main priorities of the government in the current Iranian year (started March 20, 2016) is to develop industrial greenhouses.  
“This form of agriculture would help create jobs and conserve both water and soil,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.

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