Agricuture Inefficiency Alarming

An agriculture expert says irrigation efficiency in Iran hardly reaches 30% where some 60 billion cubic meters of water is practically wasted every year.

“In developed countries, the agriculture sector consumes 30% of total water supplies. The figure stands at 70% in developing and under-developed countries”, Ahmad Asgari told Tasnim News Agency.

“In every country, water is consumed by agriculture and industry sectors while high volume of it is used by urban and rural populations. What we need to do is to reduce water losses across the country through applying modern irrigation techniques.”

Asgari said, totally, 87 billion cubic meters of water is annually used in farming while only 27 billion cubic meters is consumed efficiently.
He said that improving irrigation efficiency is not going to be a simple process.

“With all the government support, it needs decades of planning. But even slight improvements would significantly influence the output.”

Asgari said the first thing to do would be to choose the cropping pattern appropriate for the country’s climatic conditions.

“We then need to make infrastructural changes regarding water and soil. For instance, we should use pressurized irrigation in arid and semi-arid areas.”

Proper agricultural wastewater treatment would also help significantly increase irrigation efficiency “because the result would be reusable water.”

Asqari also urged officials to make reforms in the pattern of import and export of agricultural products.

“Crops with high water requirements should be imported while domestic production should focus on fruits and vegetables with low water needs.”

Roughly one-third of Iran’s total area is regarded as suitable land for agricultural production. However, because of poor soil and a lack of adequate water distribution in many areas, most of it is not under cultivation. Only 12% of the total land area is under cultivation and less than one-third of the cultivated area is irrigated, while the rest is devoted to dry farming.

Sometimes through a year, water lines used for farming are cut in order to compensate for the lack of drinking water supplies.

Throughout Iran, landscapes are being transformed as scientists warn that large areas run the risk of becoming a vast desert. Lake Urmia, a large salt lake in Iran’s northwest, has been depleted to just 5 percent of its former volume over only two decades. Isfahan’s Zayandeh-Rud, a river which once flowed through Iran’s heartland, is mostly a dry bed after it was diverted and dammed to provide irrigation for farms.

Source: Financial Tribune

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