Pistachios: hard choices
TEHRAN. As accurate statistics on Iran’s annual pistachio production are lacking, it is challenging to issue reliable forecasts. The fact, however, is that spring frosts have caused extensive crop damage in the past two years and that farmers have lost large amounts of money. Yet, water scarcity is the most serious threat as growers are already confronted with the harsh realities of climate change. (Mundus-Agri)
Production at the high cost
While Iran’s pistachio production peaked at around 265,000 mt in 2007, such volumes have become unimaginable as more and more water resources are drying up in traditional pistachio-producing areas. Drought and water scarcity have certainly reduced output in Kerman and other leading producing provinces in recent years. The problem is not only less rain but also lower underground water levels, which render it impossible for growers to step up production no matter how swiftly they adapt to the changing climate.
The reality is that pistachio production comes at an increasingly high cost as the nuts are grown in areas that are confronted with severe water stress. Even suppliers emphasise that the situation is so bad that if the production of crops requiring water continues in such areas living there will become impossible. The only upside is that water scarcity has put enormous pressure on producers to modernize and to better observe scientific, empirical and economic principles in planning, growing and harvesting pistachios. They now use water more resourcefully by producing higher yields per cubic meter of water they consume. Nevertheless, the amount of water that is required to produce pistachios renders profitability and foreign currency imports essential for the market.