by Mehmet Ugur Gurkaynak

Population and geographical structure, climate and environment

Iran, a country with a long history and culture, borders a total of 15 countries from the land and sea and has served as the junction between Europe and Asia for many years, thanks to the ancient Silk Road. Iran, which has a strategic position in terms of Export and import, has ben crucially important due to the presence of oil within the country. The capital of Iran is Tehran.

The country ihas a total area of 1,628,760 km2. According to data from the World Bank, the total population of Iran is 81,800,269 people. 49.4 percent of this population is female and 50.6 percent is male.

In this country, which has a generally arid and semi-arid climate, the shores of the Caspian Sea have a subtropical climate. The average rainfall is 3mm in July, with the average temperature being between 22 - 37 °C during this warmest period of the year. In January, the coldest month, the temperature drops to -3 - -7 ° C and precipitation levels can exceed 46mm.

In Tehran, the temperature varies considerably between summer and winter months. While the summers are hot and dry (typically between 30 - 40 °C), winters are between 0 - 15 °C. Snowfalls are seen in higher sections of the land.

55 percent of the country's land consists of grassland, 23 percent desert and eight percent consists of forests. 14 percent of the land is arable in Iran. There are also rough and mountainous lands, although these are less prevalent.

Agriculture and livestock

One fourth of the workforce is employed in agriculture and animal husbandry in Iran. Agricultural production is mostly conducted in the north and west of the country.

The main agricultural products of Iran are wheat, corn, barley, rice, sugarcane, various fruits, sugar beet, cotton, peanut, onion and palm. Caviar produced by fishing projects around the Caspian Sea attracts great attention from the world markets. The red and white meat sector has made great progress in the country and proves to be popular.

According to data sourced from the Iran Ministry of Agriculture 80 percent of Iran's food demand is met by the country's own production. 20 percent of the country's land is suitable for agriculture, four percent are wetlands, eight percent is consdiered overly dry for farming and 20 percent is deemed ideal for Iranian agriculture. The agricultural sector employs 23 percent of the population.

Due to climatic difficulties, irrigation problems occur from time to time in Iran. The drought experienced in the last 10 years has negatively affected food production. While the world rainfall average is 800mm, the rate is around 250mm in Iran.

The Iranian government gives purchase warranties at a certain price for major products such as wheat and supports farmers in the supply of tractors. Despite the scarcity of arable land, a wide variety of products are readily available in Iran. Besides wheat, barley, corn and rice, other important agricultural products include figs, dates, pomegranates, grapes, melons, cotton, beets, sugar, cane sugar, olives, nuts, spices, tea and saffron.

Iran imports red meat and wheat. Animal feed materials used in Iran are heavily reliant on important. On average, 70 percent of animal feed ingredients are imported into the country.

Domestic production increased by 14 percent in March 2016-17 which, as a result, decreased the trade deficit in Iran. According to IRNA, US $1.4b worth of animal feed, $909m of soybeans and $690m of rice were imported in the last year alone. Milk, which is one of the key exported products of Iran, is also an important source of income for many locals. Exports of milk have reached 387,000 tonnes in recent years.

The Iranian government has aimed at reducing the trade deficit in the agricultural sector by implementing some measures over the past year. Increasing the import tax applied to sugar and rice, controlling the import of vegetable oil and oilseeds to support local producers, supporting the exporters of livestock and fishery products and increasing the wheat reserves are among the main measures to reduce Trade deficit.

Fishery

The Arabian and Caspian Seas, as well as the Persian Gulf, are an important area for fish farming in Iran. Approximately one million tonnes of seafood is obtained annually from Iranian seas and fisheries. Approximately 58 percent of this amount is obtained by sea fishing and 42 percent through farmed aquaculture systems such as fish farms.

The most common fished species in Iran include mackerel, tuna, sailfish, sardine, shrimp, gray mullet and carp. In addition, Rainbow trout, Chinese carp, shrimp, sea bream, sturgeon and Caspian salmon are among the most harvest fish gathered from fish farms.

The most active regions for aquaculture are the northern and western regions of the country. Shrimp is grown in the southern parts of Iran. Most of the required fish feeds fort he Iranian indusry are produced directly in Iran (90% in total), whilst the remaining 10 percent are imported from France and various Asian countries.

Some 10 percent of the seafood produced in Iran is exported. Primary exporting countries include Iraq, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam and China. Iran is also famous for caviar. The revenue of exports, which can exceed one tonne per annum, is $2.5m. Countries which purchase caviar from Iran include Germany, France, Belgium and Italy.

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