According to Jalalpour, who is also a former chairman of Iran’s Pistachio Association, the drought is taking its toll on Kerman’s pistachio farms, with 12,000 to 15,000 hectares of farms dying from a lack of water every year.
Ali Ahmadian, a pistachio grower from Kerman, confirmed Jalalpour’s general concerns, telling the Iranian Students’ News Agency on Oct. 8, “Unfortunately, pistachio farms are drying out because of water shortages.” In addition, he identified another, related problem, stating, “The quality of the water has also suffered, because the level of underground water has been going deeper, now at 300 to 400 meters [984 to 1,312 feet].”
Ahmadian also complained about the lack of government support and the high cost of pistachio production, “Unlike other agricultural products, such as wheat, that are bought by the government, pistachios are purchased by middlemen.”
Seyed Mahmood Abtahi, the chairman of the board of Iran’s Pistachio Association, told Al-Monitor that water consumption from underground sources is much higher than the input from rainfall. “There is currently a plan under discussion about developing a water market under which — if approved and implemented — a greater amount of the existing water will be dedicated to those areas that have a higher yield rate of production,” he told Al-Monitor.
The Iranian pistachio industry has also been affected by yearslong nuclear-related sanctions. The industry was not directly targeted, but sales of pistachios to foreign markets, including Europe, were hindered because of the banking and shipping restrictions imposed as part of the punitive measures.