Unstable agriculture does not result in stability
Mansour Sohrabi: Unbalanced agricultural development in Iran has led to wastage of water resources, groundwater depletion, land subsidence, soil erosion, rangelands use change, wetlands drying up, desertification, and rural migration. Continuation of this process will create many problems for Iran’s environment and natural resources.
For years, Iran's development plans based on food security were misinterpreted as self-sufficiency in agriculture.
Improper agricultural development policies in Iran led to an increase in the area under cultivation and a change in the use of rangeland lands. This change of land use from rangeland to rain-fed and from rain-fed to irrigated has resulted in irreparable damage to water resources. Continuation of this process will create many problems for the environment and natural resources of Iran. The purpose of this article is to investigate the effects of conventional agriculture in Iran on soil and water resources. Despite this, a few questions should be answered: 1- What are the factors causing the crisis in Iranian agriculture?
2- Is the policy of self-sufficiency in Iranian agriculture the right policy?
3- Is there a way out of this crisis?
4- Is there a possibility of sustainable agriculture in Iran?
According to the Ministry of Energy, the agricultural sector has harvested more than 90% of the country's water consumption, almost 86 BCM per year with a water use efficiency of 38%. Most agricultural products in Iran result from uncontrolled harvesting of water resources and remain unstable.
Iran annually produces about 110 million tons of crops and horticulture, of which more than 30% is wasted. More than 90% of Iran's agricultural production is obtained through irrigated agriculture while the global average is about 20%.
Irregular water abstraction in the agricultural sector has led to significant food insecurity. It has also caused many environmental problems, including groundwater depletion, landslides, land subsidence, soil erosion, Rangelands use change, wetlands drying up, desertification, and rural migration. Continuation of this process will create many problems for the environment and natural resources of Iran. There is even the possibility of conflict between different provinces, cities, and villages in the future. Given that different ethnicities live in Iran, this can widen the gap between ethnicities.
Studies show that Iran's water and soil resources are facing a new threat and there is a possibility of desertification in most parts of Iran. If Iran's agricultural policies and programs do not change, there is a possibility of widespread migration from most parts of Iran. Mansour Sohrabi is an Agroecologist and researcher based in Kiel, Germany. Illustration: Assad Binakhahi