LONDON, Jan 24 (IranMania) - Some 130,000 tons of dates are harvested in the southern province of Hormuzgan annually, said the English-language daily `Tehran Times` on Monday.
"The (dates are) collected from 35,000 date palms that cover some 35,000 hectares of land here," said the head of the provincial Agricultural Jihad Organization. Mohammad Nassuri pointed to a plan to improve cultivation of date palms, saying some 100,000 superior species of date saplings are distributed to farmers each year.
He also underlined Hormuzgan`s favorable conditions for raising citrus fruits, adding that 250,000 tons of the Bonab lemon are produced annually on 20,000 hectares of farmland.
"Citrus fruits cover 35,000 hectares of land all across the province," he added. He further said that summer fruits like mangos are grown on 600,000 hectares of land in the province. Nassuri also pointed to the province`s seafood industry, saying 94,000 tons of sea products were harvested in the first nine months of the current Iranian year (March 20-December 20).
"Some 1,700 tons of shrimps were harvested this year in shrimp farms of the province."He pointed out that the basic strategy of the province`s agriculture sector is to protect aquifers, adding that they have plans to use pressurized irrigation systems in some 14.6 thousand hectares of farmlands.
"The province sustained damages to the tune of rls150,000 bln (nearly$17 bln) caused by drought in the past six years," Nassuri said with regret. He cast the blame on the Interior Ministry for "not seriously implementing plans to combat drought.
Steps taken to decrease the number of Iranian Pistachio rejection in EU.
Green Corridor Project 2004
During 2003 and first half of 2004 the number of rejects of Iranian pistachio into EU increased to approximately 16-21% on certified deliveries. Exports of Iranian pistachio into EU are, therefore, considered for additional restrictions. EU has advised that if the reject levels are not decreased the coming months, with the new harvest, additional restrictions -if not total embargo- will be imposed Traditionally Europe has been the most remunerative market for Iranian pistachios and EU authorities as well as European consumers like Iranian pistachios. Any probable additional restrictions would not only have adverse effect in Europe, but shall affect negatively global markets for Iranian pistachios. In order to counter such unfavorable circumstances, the Scientific and Technical Committee of INC/FRUCOM represented by Mr. G. Calcagni and Mr. M. Jallalpour, President of Kerman Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines (KCCIM) have come to the conclusion to launch a new study plan (under the name of Green Corridor Project 2004) and to analyze, step by step, all the critical control points to find guidelines and possible solutions. [more >>]
EU ports have blocked several pistachio shipments from Iran, the world's top producer, but an Iranian exporter dismissed fears about traces of a cancer-causing chemical contaminating the nuts as scaremongering. [more >>]
This week plant pathologists at the American Phytopathological Society ( APS) say a serious and devastating disease could put a definite halt to this relatively young industry.
According to Themis Michailides, plant pathologist at the university of California, Davis, this disease, panicle and shoot blight of pistachio, was first discovered in 1984 in a commercial orchard in the northern Sacramento Valley and has since become a disease of major importance for pistachios grown in California.
"Yield losses from 40 to 100 per cent were not uncommon in the orchards where the disease was discovered," said Michailides. "The destruction caused by this disease makes panicle and shoot blight the most serious threat to pistachio trees grown in California," he added.
Panicle and shoot blight is caused by the fungus Botryosphaeria dothidea, aggressive and difficult to control.
According to Michailides, the pistachio industry in California is based on a cultivar that is very susceptible to this particular fungus. "Because of the California pistachio's susceptibility to this fungus, panicle and shoot blight has the potential to reach epidemic levels in pistachio orchards in only a few years," he warned.
To prevent such epidemics from occurring, and since some resistance to the disease exists in the present Pistacia germplasm, breeders need to work closely with plant pathologists to develop disease resistant varieties of the pistachio tree, the plant pathologist said.
In addition, Michailides also recommends growers remain proactive in their efforts to keep their orchards free from infection of the pathogen by conducting regular surveys, sanitation by pruning of possible infections, controlling insects, and following fungicide programs that were shown to control panicle and shoot blight.
Today there are about 550 pistachio growers in the US, the majority concentrated in California. Producting over 400 million pounds of pistachios a year, Iran is the number one producer in the world. Followed by the USA, Turkey, Syria, Greece and Italy.
Iranian Pistachio Nuts Flood ChinaBEIJING - Apr 4/01 - STAT
Limited promotional efforts by Iranian exporters have combined with competitive prices to allow the country to edge out the United States as the main supplier of pistachio nuts to China.
Both China's customs statistics and Hong Kong re-exports to China figures for last year showed that Iranian-origin pistachio imports were greater than American ones in terms of volume, notes the U.S. agricultural attache here in a report on the situation.
Local industry participants cite price as the major factor for the switch. However, at the same time, Iranian exporters have started their own promotional efforts in China, albeit limited.
At Food and Hotel South China 2000, one Iranian pistachio producer, the Habibi Company, participated in the exhibition. In addition, a few Guangzhou distributors with offices and/or store fronts along Yide Road have also put up posters and flags promoting Habibi brand pistachios from Iran.
According to the Hong Kong re-exports to China statistics, the Iranian share of the market in 1999 dramatically started to increase and overtook the U.S. in terms of volume. Last year, China's customs import statistics confirmed this trend.
Iranian pistachio preserves its place in EU marketsJune 13, 2004
Brussels, June 12, IRNA -- European Union and Iranian officials have strongly denied some media speculations on a possible European ban on Iranian pistachio imports due to aflatoxin contamination.
"There is no ban from the EU side, but there is 100 percent testing," Arancha Gonzalez, spokeswoman for trade in the European Commission, told IRNA.
She said that Iranian authorities "have not communicated to us any action plan to tackle this specific problem and, therefore, the 100 percent control at EU ports will have to remain in place."
"The controls are very strict and the control guarantees that the products that are being imported are not bad for human consumption," explained Gonzalez.
Aflatoxins are toxic metabolites produced by certain fungi in or on food and feeds and health authorities link it to liver and kidney cancers.
On May 27, a delegation comprising officials from the Iranian Ministries of Health and Agriculture accompanied by representatives from the Association of Dry Nuts Exporters and the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines held talks in Brussels with Commission officials to resolve the problem.
Currently, the EU checks all pistachio imports from Iran, but if the situation improves only random checks will be carried out by the end of the year.
In the course of talks with the European Commission's health authorities, the EU side has accepted to exempt Iranian pistachio from 100 percent testing procedure if the number of rejected consignments are decreased to a certain low level till the beginning of the year 2005 when the Commission will make a decision.
Meanwhile, the Iranian side has assured it would continue to exert utmost efforts to improve the quality of its pistachio supply based on EU food safety standards.
"Due to the intense efforts made by the Iranian pistachio producers, agriculture and health authorities and the exporter companies for improving the quality of pistachio, and considering that as of the new year pistachio production will arrive in EU markets in three to four months, a drastic change in the quality of this product can be foreseen," Mohammad Javad Rezayat, counsellor for EU affairs at the Iranian embassy in Brussels, told IRNA.
Only 16.4 percent of Iranian pistachio exports to the EU have been rejected.
The European bloc slapped its first ban on Iranian pistachio imports due to alleged high-levels of aflatoxin in September 1997.
The embargo was lifted three months later following assurances from Tehran that it would improve health safety measures and the quality of its pistachio production.
The European Commission's consumer and food safety measures on imports are becoming stricter and tighter every year for all commodities being imported to the Union from all countries, including EU member states.
The core of the pistachio dispute is based on the different acceptable levels of aflatoxin.
Whereas the International Nut Council (INC) has set 15 ppb (parts per billion) as acceptable aflatoxin levels, the Commission standards have set this level at only 4 pbb.
Last March, the Commission informed Iran that aflatoxin contamination of its pistachio shipments to Europe was increasing and urged Iran to take appropriate actions to reduce it.
Iran has recently provided the European Commission with reports on the latest measures taken to tackle the problem.
Moreover, pistachio farmers in Iran are being trained for conversion from traditional farming to modern cultivation methods with the use of latest available farming technology.
The EU has been providing Iran with technical expertise on harvesting, processing and packaging of pistachios.
Iran's efforts to resolve the problem seems to be bearing fruits. According to the latest weekly notifications on food and feed safety issued by the Commission, the number of cases related to aflatoxins in Iran's pistachio was only four cases, which is well below the number in previous weeks.
"These facts show that Iran is serious about tackling the problem," said Rezayat.
Alert notifications are sent when the food or feed presenting a risk is on the European market and when immediate action is required.
Most pistachio imports enter the EU via countries with huge port and storage facilities like Germany.
However, after the recent EU enlargement, food control laboratories with essential technical expertise were established in the 10 newly joined border countries.
Both Iranian and EU officials have dismissed media insinuation that political motives are behind the EU action against Iran's pistachio.
"I deny in strongest terms any political considerations. Public health issues are not based on any political considerations but on scientific evidence," stressed Gonzalez.
"Although the problem with the Iranian pistachio is mainly technical, a small percentage of rejected pistachio consignments should not affect the whole pistachio trade with the EU, and Iranian pistachio exporters have to know that the competition in the EU market is a reality too," underlined Rezayat.
In 2002, world production of pistachio reached 571,000 tons.
Iran, with 248,000 tons, was the top producer of the tasty nuts followed by the US with 136,000 tons.
The EU absorbs about 25 percent of Iranian pistachio exports.
However, Iran's pistachio output will decline by 150,000 tons this year compared to last year's due to the unexpected changes in ecological conditions, according to the Director General of the Pistachio Affairs Department of the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture Jihad Behrouz Gheybi.
He told IRNA in Tehran that Iran's pistachio production will not exceed 60,000 tons this year and pistachio exports will be about 50,000 tons.
Iranian pistachios topped the country's list of non-oil exports in the last Iranian year sidelining its old rival, the Iranian carpet.
An Iranian economic professor abroad recently said in Paris that the value of Iranian pistachios exported in the last Iranian year (ended March 19, 2004) registered an increase of 71 percent at 803 million dollars, 260 million dollars more than the value of the country's carpet exports in the said period.
Noting that Iranian pistachios outpaced its old rival, the Iranian carpet, in the said period, the professor explained that it was due in part to the landmark decline in the Iranian carpet export industry which was about 10 percent. He added that with the country's annual production of some 220,000 tons, Iranian pistachios command some 60 percent of the world's market, IRNA reported.
Iran's pistachio exports up 2.5-fold in first 6 months(10/16/03)
Export revenues from pistachios and pistachio kernels increased by 2.5 times to $272.2 million in the first six months of the current Iranian year (started on March 21) from $112.9 million in the same period the year before, IRNA reported from Tehran.
Exports in the first six months of this year showed 1.4 percent decrease compared to that in the same period the previous year.
Pistachios and pistachio kernels accounted for 11 percent of Iran's non-oil commodities' exports in the first half of this year. Each kilos of pistachio was sold for dlrs 3.7 on average in the first six months of this year.