Aloe Vera, the New Farm Crop

Aloe Vera, the New Farm Crop

Only 8 years after being introduced to Iranian households, aloe vera is now a common item in food and cosmetics markets. Cheap cultivation of aloe vera has attracted young Iranian agriculture specialists to farming the succulent plant, and contribute to its booming food processing industry and exports.
In comparison with a majority of agricultural products, aloe vera is cost-effective. Annual tillage and cultivation, pest control, nutrients and water management, and harvesting crops impose high expenses on farmers,” says Maysam Kokabi, an expert in aloe vera cultivation.  Aloe vera on the other hand, is popular with modern gardeners as a putative medicinal plant and for its interesting flowers, form, and succulence. The succulence enables the species to survive in areas of low natural rainfall, making it ideal for rockeries and other low water-use farms, reports IANA. Additionally, the species is relatively resistant to most insect pests, ruling out the need for pesticides, thus, relieving farmers the burden of a costly procedure.  Although aloe vera does not need fertilizer, cultivating it in unfertilized soil regenerates the land for future farming. Notably, aloe vera grows in aggressive environments and salty soil without irrigation for up to a year.

Timely harvesting is a critical step in successful agriculture, failing which farmers have to sell their products for low prices. “Aloe vera has no harvesting timeframe; as a matter of fact, as the harvesting is delayed the leaves grow thicker, producing larger amounts of sap,” Kokabi remarked.  
Every hectare of aloe vera cultivated costs $1200-$1900 (40-60 million rials), with two workers sufficing and generates revenue of $9000-$12000 (300-400 million rials) annually. The attractive remuneration is in contrast with, for instance, 1 hectare of tomato farming which requires approximately 10 workers for 2 months. The outstanding differences are significant.  
In addition to food and beverage industry, cosmetic industries use aloe vera’s gelatin and powder, which has great domestic demand.
Kokabi further underlined that raw aloe vera leaves are exported to Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Iraq. Iran exports shrubs to Cyprus, Iraq, and Pakistan, while Switzerland imports processed products such as gelatin and aloe vera powder from Iran.

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