Rice is the staple food in Iran because the consistency of cooked rice outweighs all other factors for consumers. Furthermore, rice is grown in 15 provinces, with over 600,000 ha under cultivation (Mojtahedi, 2014). Nonetheless, more than 80% of the paddy land is shared between the two northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran. Iran’s rice production is mostly irrigated, with yields ranging from 3.5 to 3 tons per ha for local varieties and 7 to 5 tons per ha for improved varieties (Ashoori et al., 2017). In most places, the rice cultivation is done once from April or May to September or August, but some regions are capable of producing the second crop. The most significant study priorities in Iranian rice are the breed for quality rice, high-yielding and yield stabilization via the incorporation of genes for resistance to sheath blight, blast and sheath rot diseases.
Country and Climate
Iran is the Islamic Republic that covers about 1648000-kilometer square and is situated between longitudes 63 and 44E and latitudes 40 and 25N (Gohari et al., 2013). The nation is dominated by the Zagros and Elburz mountain ranges while two great deserts cover much of the central place making more than 20 million ha unsuitable for crop production. Besides, the country has a dry and warm climate with undersized chilly winters and extended hot and dry summers. The climate is manipulated by the location between the subtropical humidity of Mediterranean region and subtropical aridity of Arabian Desert (Gohari et al., 2013). In several parts of Iran, summers are hot to warm with nearly continuous sunshine although there is high humidity in the coastal areas. The daily temperature can be very hot reaching 40 degrees Celsius or more particularly along the Oman and Persian Gulf (Inc, 2012). Approximate 70 percent of the mean rainfall is received between March and November, but June to August is frequently rainless. Further, rainfall differs from seasons to another and from one year to the other. The precipitation is concentrated in local, but there are violent storms that cause local flooding and erosion in the winter months.
The cultivation system of rice in Iran is via irrigation and the growing varies in all provinces. Almost 25 percent of farmlands are used for rice production. However, paddy fields in Gilan cover 52 percent, 3 percent in Fars, 16 percent in Mazandaran and below one percent in other parts of the nation (Maclean et al., 2013). In the arid regions, rice farming is one of the limited activities due to the inhospitable weather. Furthermore, the cultivation of rice is limited to regions that have the adequate supply of water such as the lower Qezel Ozon and Aras valleys, upper Isfahan oasis, Khuzestan and far. The production is highly concentrated in the Caspian provinces which produce about 85 percent of the total national yields since they have adequate water (Kazemi et al., 2015). Even if the natural situations of Mazandaran and Gilan are favorable, they are not optimal due to the cold weather that restricts only one season.
Different farmers plant 3 to 6 sub-varieties of rice in Iran with the choice founded upon the quantity of water needed, season and if it is for export or local consumption. Local varieties have low yields, but because of the paramount quality characteristics, they are cultivated in more than 80 percent of the paddy area (Maclean et al., 2013). Basmati is the local variety that has a tall stature, droopy leaves, and weak culm. Other varieties include salari, sang tarom, ambarboo, binam, domisiah and hasan sarai. The primary categorization of Iranian rice is founded on the market value and physical grain. Three broad groups include the champa, gerdeh and sadri (Mojtahedi, 2014).
Export and Import Market
The production of rice in Iran is quite impressive since, by 2015, 3.5 million tons were produced in 0.55 million hectares of paddy area. However, 2.25 million tons are expected to be produced in this year, but Iranians use 3.2 million tons of rice yearly which mean there is need to import one million tons (Ashoori et al., 2017). The importation of rice is banned by the government during the harvest season so that to support farmers. More than 630000 tons of rice were imported from Uruguay, Pakistan, and UAE worth 271 million dollars in 2008 as well as 1.4 million tons in 2009 which were worth 800 million dollars (Gohari et al., 2013). Nevertheless, the import dropped since 2010 by 40 percent. In 2011, the rice production in Iran was 2.4 million tons. The average per capita use of rice is 45.5 kilograms putting Iran as the 13th largest rice consumers (Gohari et al., 2013). For the past years, Iran banned the imports of basmati rice from time to time so that to decrease its inventory held by local traders and secure the interests of farmers. The last ban for export particularly from India was July 2016. The cultivation of rice in Iran increased due to export demand in the Russian market (Maclean et al., 2013).
People and Social Structures Involved
Farmers, particularly from the northern parts, are people who are involved in the production of rice in Iran. Small privately possessed farms are rare in Mazandaran and Gilan since most of the rice fields are owned by landlords who are represented by local stewards. Most of the families own piece of land of about of about 1.5 to two hectares which are easily managed (Mojtahedi, 2014). Collective organization of farm work even it is essential for irrigation has not been accomplished since households are scattered. Every farmer cultivates his or her farm and selects the type of variety to plant based on the personal calendar. Energetic and independent-minded farmers have utilized the services of local cooperatives although they are reluctant in taking part in the farming corporations (Mojtahedi, 2014). Women do most of the farm jobs since their effectiveness, and productivity of weeding and transplanting operations are regarded to be better than men.
The major problems facing rice in Iran include drought because of inadequate water for irrigation, stem borer and high amount of rainfall in September. Besides, salinity affects the production of rice particularly in some regions of Khuzistan and Mazandaran (Maclean et al., 2013). Various diseases affect rice such as bakanese, blast, sheath rot, and blight which decreases the yields. Flooding due to high rainfall in September makes it difficult for the harvesting and post-harvesting activities.
The political and social changes in the Iran administration have facilitated the economic changes via initiatives such as the removal of non-tariff obstacles so that to be ready for in joining the worldwide market system (Ashoori et al., 2017). The interventions in food trades are aimed at making sure that there is food securing and reducing food prices. Rice production sustainability has been increased due to subsidies and discounts in the production inputs. Also, the administration has put supporting industries to boost the farming of rice. Importation of rice is banned during the harvest seasons so that to motivate local farmers and improve the markets (Mojtahedi, 2014).
Ashoori, D., Allahyari, M.S., Damalas, C.A., 2017. Adoption of conservation farming practices for sustainable rice production among small-scale paddy farmers in northern Iran. Paddy Water Env. Paddy Water Environ. 15, 237–248.
Gohari, A., Eslamian, S., Abedi-Koupaei, J., Massah Bavani, A., Wang, D., Madani, K., 2013. Climate change impacts on crop production in Iran’s Zayandeh-Rud River Basin. STOTEN Sci. Total Environ. 442, 405–419.
Inc, I., 2012. Iran Country Study Guide Volume 1 Strategic Information and Developments. International Business Publications, Washington, D.C.
Kazemi, H., Kamkar, B., Lakzaei, S., Badsar, M., Shahbyki, M., 2015. Energy flow analysis for rice production in different geographical regions of Iran. EGY Energy 84, 390–396.
Maclean, J., Hardy, B., Hettel, G., 2013. Rice Almanac, 4th edition: Source Book for One of the Most Important Economic Activities on Earth. IRRI, Los Banos.
Mojtahedi, A., 2014. Rice growing in northern Iran. Dept. of Geography, University of Durham, Durham, Eng.