People, Environment

Fars Rice Farmers Warned

Fars Rice Farmers WarnedFars Rice Farmers Warned

The office of the Agriculture Ministry in Fars Province has called on farmers to reduce cultivating water-intensive crops due to the region’s 14-year struggle with drought and water shortage.

Special emphasis has been put on rice, which apparently requires substantial amounts of water.

In the ministry’s latest guidelines, it has not allocated any share of the province’s groundwater to rice cultivation.

“Achieving this goal requires public awareness and cooperation of authorities, farmers and the general public,” Mohammad Mehdi Qasemi, head of the provincial arm of the ministry, was quoted as saying by the news website

He pointed to the villages of Kamfiruoz District in Marvdasht County, where water has not been supplied to paddy farmers since the beginning of the current water year (started September 23, 2015), because “the amount of water in the Mollasadra Dam’s reservoir is not sufficient.”

This decision was made following an agreement between the ministry and the Fars Regional Water Authority.    

“Legal action will be taken against violators based on the regulations, even if they buy water from other farmers, or other sources for that matter,” said Qasemi.

 Systematic Curbs

Reducing rice farming in the southern provinces is one of the strategic policies of the ministry. Proper management and efficient use of water resources in the production of crops is among the priorities of the Agriculture Ministry.

During the previous water year (September 2014-15), rice farms covered about 29,000 hectares in Fars — down 18% compared to the previous year. The ministry is aiming to reduce the area even further this year.

“We’re exploring ways of achieving that goal,” Qasemi added.

The official said farms will be monitored and supervised by experts, a move he said was welcomed by farmers last year. “We’ll visit farms during the planting, growing and harvesting seasons.”

Boasting abundant water reserves, Fars Province was once an agricultural hub producing a variety of crops, especially rice. It now barely has enough water to meet basic household needs as a result of long periods of drought and excessive withdrawal of groundwater through thousands of legal and illegal wells over the past decade.

The severity of the depletion of groundwater sources has forced residents of the province to dig more than 300 meters just to reach water, while just a few years ago they would barely need to dig 70 meters.