Tackling food and nutrition security head-on in Iran

A dissemination farm promoting improved crops in Iran

The Government of Iran is funding and collaborating with ICARDA on a new initiative to increase the country's rain-fed wheat, barley, and chickpea production by over 25% during the next five years.

Food insecurity currently affects 49% of households in Iran, including 67% of children, and 65% of the elderly, according to a recent study by the Ilam University of Medical Sciences.

Additionally, harsh farming terrains — made only more so by the effects of increasing climate change —and low productivity in the agricultural sector have exacerbated the problem. While the country’s rural areas depend heavily on the agricultural sector, the latter’s share of GDP has decreased significantly in the last two decades. According to FAO, the country’s food security challenges include low self-sufficiency in major staple crops and poor access to food in rural communities.

During the 2016-2017 growing season, the collaboration established 10 innovation/demonstration platforms over 4,800 ha. These ‘dissemination farms’ were created across four agro-ecological zones, including cold, moderate and warm climes (in East Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and Lorestan).

The platforms are agro-eco specific to each region and aim to demonstrate improved seed varieties and agro-technology systems that will promote conservation agriculture. The approaches include exploring seed planting depth, zero-tillage methods, crop rotation, integrated pest management, effective fertilizing/nutrition, weed and disease management, and improved cultivation and harvesting methods.

Increasing farmers’ access to, and knowledge of, high-quality varieties of wheat, barley and chickpea that can thrive in heat, frost, and drought, and are resistant to diseases, is vital for sustainable agriculture in Iran and the wider region.