PROFILE - IRAN
Republic of Iran, with a land area of about 1.65 million sq. km, is situated
in the middle east region of south-western Asia. Iran is one of world’s
oldest countries, with its history dating back almost 5000 years. The
population of Iran is about 60.05 million (1996) of which 38.34 per cent
is rural. The average rate of population growth was 2.46 % between the
period 1986-1991 and 1.47 % over the period 1991-1996. The estimated population
during the years 2008, 2021 and 2050 is likely to be 83.5 million, 100
million and 129.5 million respectively. The country is bordered by Azerbaijan,
the Caspian Sea and Turkmenistan to the north; Afghanistan and Pakistan
to the east; Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf to the south; and Iraq and
Turkey to the west. About 52 per cent of the country consists of mountains
and deserts. The largest mountain massif is that of the Zagros which runs
from north-western Iran to the shores of the Persian Gulf southwards and
then continues eastwards upto the most south-eastern province.
accounts for most of the total value of Iran’s exports, while mining accounts
for 25 per cent of Iran’s GNP. Service industries account for 46 per cent
of Iran’s GNP and employs 43 per cent of all workers.
Out of the
total land area of the country of 165 million ha (Mha), 51 Mha is cultivable.
However, the actual cultivated area of the country is about 18.5 Mha,
or 36 per cent of the cultivable area. An area of 12.4 Mha comprises forests
while 89.2 Mha consists of pastures, mountains and deserts. The interior
plateau lies in the central and eastern Iran and occupies about half of
country’s total area.
varies from region to region. While the winter temperatures in the mountainous
areas of the north-west drop as low as -29oC , the Khuzistan Plain has
extremely hot humid summer with an average temperature of about 35oC.
Most of the interior plateau has a dry climate, but the winters are mild
and pleasant. An average of about 50 mm of rain falls on the deserts yearly.
The Caspian Sea Coast is Iran’s only region of abundant rainfall of 1600
mm per year. Iran has 8 climatic zones varying from very dry to very wet.
The average rainfall in the country is 250 mm.
accounts for about 12 per cent of the country’s GNP and deploys about
36 per cent of the workers. Only about 12 % of the land can be farmed
because of a severe water shortage. Wheat and barley are grown on about
75% of the cultivated land. Farmers also grow such crops as cotton, dates
and other fruits, lentils, maize, nuts, rice, sugar beet, tea and tobacco.
Cattle, goats, and sheep provide dairy products and meat.
be divided into the following major river basins : the Central Plateau
in the middle, the Lake Orumieh basin in the north-west, the Persian Gulf
and the Gulf of Oman in the west and south, the Lake Hamoun basin in the
east, the Kara-Kum basin in the north-east and the Caspian Sea basin in
the north. All these basins, except the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman,
are interior basins. The Karun River forms the largest and the only navigable
river that, with a total length of 890 km, flows in the south-west of
the country. The rivers have torrential regime. Spring floods do enormous
damage. Water is however stored naturally underground, finding its outlet
in sub-terranean water canals (Qanats) and springs. It can also be tapped
renewable water resources of Iran are estimated at 128.5 km3/year. Surface
runoff represents a total of 97.3 km3/year and groundwater recharge is
estimated at about 49.3 km3/year. Iran receives 6.7 km3/year of surface
water from external source, while the surface runoff to the sea and neighbouring
countries is estimated at 55.9 km3/year.
renewable water resources are estimated to be 2040 cubic meter per year
per capita. The water withdrawal from surface is of the order of the 38.3
cubic km per year while that from ground water is 43.3 cubic km per year.
During the year 1997, a total of 87 cubic km per year water was withdrawn
of which 94 per cent was for agriculture. The current annual abstraction
from aquifers is already more than the estimated safe yield. The per capita
water resources of the country is 1380 m3 per year (1993).
Requirement and Availability
demand for food in Iran is based on a diet of 2700 cal per person per
day which is in accordance with FAO (1996). Accordingly, some 1600 m3
per person per year of water in the root-zone is needed to allow self-sufficient
food production (Falkenmark and Lundqvist, 1998). Iran is mostly an arid
country and except in very limited regions, this required water has to
be provided for irrigation. Taking into account this figure and referring
to eight climatic zones in Iran, the per capita water need to obtain self-sufficiency
is estimated as 1180 m3/year.
As per comprehensive
water study for Iran (Jamab, 1996) with proven sources of water which
can be extracted by the country’s present technology in the main water
basins, it is estimated that an amount of 121 km3/year of water can be
supplied by the year 2021. Of this, 46.5 km3/year will consist of groundwater
and the remaining 74.5 km3/year of surface water. This forms 88 per cent
of the total renewable water resources of the country, which can be considered
as the ultimate development of these resources. However, due to enormous
investments required by the government, this goal can hardly be achieved.
At an optimistic scale, 85% of this figure i.e. 102 km3/year would be
accessible in the year 2021. The share of Agriculture from accessible
water resources will reduce from 93.6 % in the year 1998 to 87.2% in the
year 2021 and 81.2% in the year 2060. As a result, the amount of allocated
water to agriculture sector would be almost constant : 82 km3/year (1998),
88.9 km3/year (2021) and 89.3 km3/year (2060).
to the per capita water need for self-sufficiency and the amount of water
allocated to the agriculture sector, Iran potentially possesses enough
water to achieve the self-sufficiency for the population of 67.47 million
in the year 1998.
||Total area (km2
||% of total area
||% of total rainfall
|Persian Gulf and Gulf
|Lake Hamoun and Kara-Kum
products in 1997 in Iran amounted to 58787 thousand tons of which, 52464
thousand tons or 89 per cent of these came from 7,475,657 ha of irrigated
lands and the rest 6323 (11 per cent) from 6,317,606 ha of rainfed farming.
The total cereal (wheat, barley, rice and corn) production in the country
at present amounts to15,692,000 tons. Although the agricultural production
shows an increase of 88% from the year 1983, however, the production of
cereals varied between 15.5 to 17.1 million tons during the agricultural
year 1991-92 to 1996-97.
per hectare of Iran’s agriculture is still relatively low compared to
other MENA countries (FAO, 1997), while actually, there is substantial
potential for development of productivity.
an area of 8.84 Mha in Iran is irrigated while 9.66 Mha is rainfed. The
agricultural land availability is not a constraint in the development
of irrigated agriculture. The major constraint is the availability of
water for development of these lands. The irrigable land is estimated
at more than 12 Mha. At present, the irrigation efficiency is low, being
32 per cent on an average at national level. Based on the allocation of
19 km3 per year of water to agricultural sector and increasing the average
overall irrigation efficiencies to 45 per cent with a suggested optimum
cropping pattern, and a nutrition scenario of 2700 calories per capita,
it is estimated that there will a deficit of edibles such as rice, lentils,
maize, sugar, edible oils, red meat and white meat etc.
status and National Water Management Strategy
to Ministry of Agriculture statistics, nearly 600,000 ha of land suffers
from irrigation induced salinity and waterlogging, of which only 100,000
ha has had drainage systems incorporated or being implemented. Presently,
about 7.62 km3 of unused regulated water exists in the country (Ghodratnema,
Some of the
elements in the existing structural realities of water use in Iran are
the following :
of responsibility among different governmental agencies.
for defining water rights is ambiguous and not comprehensive.
and Maintenance (O&M) of irrigation and drainage networks. Decentralization
and transfer of water use rights and O&M responsibility to communities
and users has the potential to increase efficiency, improve services
and raise fee collection.
subsidies in water charges. Heavy subsidies have counteracted incentives
to grow water-efficient crops, in terms of income per volume of water
efficiency (average over-all efficiency 32%).
Water Users Associations in agricultural sector.
infrastructure for water delivery
and distribution are dispersed
training of water consumers
of land and water is considerable.
of the Islamic Republic of Iran during the Second Five Year Plan is that
agriculture should become the center and pivot of all development activities.
strategic objectives of the agricultural program are :
growth and development in a sustainable manner and conserving scarce
through increased agricultural production;
raw material supply;
agricultural exports and reduced imports of food through self-sufficiency;
farmer incomes and standards of living;
waste in agricultural produce; and
factors of production with emphasis on services, research, training
qualitative objectives of the water sector in the Second Five Year Plan
the water requirements of the various sectorial users of water
efficiency in water resource use
decision making and management capability in the water sector
actions have been ratified by the Economic Council, and include :
of surface water
of large water-supply projects
implementation of catchment area (watershed) management programs
implementation of small, feasible projects
and wastewater treatment
of artificial recharge projects
of O&M of existing networks to farmers or operating companies
water charge rates on a regional and area basis
regard to the needs of society and the water sector, special emphasis
will be placed on research, training and fundamental studies
of water resources.
a member of ICID in the year 1955. The country has had the honour of having
two Vice Presidents of ICID - Mr. A. Kahkachan (1972-1975), Prof. Javad
Farhoudi (1996-1999), Dr. Saeed Nairizi (2001-2004) and Dr. Karim Shiati
(2006-2009). The Iranian National Committee hosted the 28th IEC meeting
and Tehran Special Session in Tehran in the year 1977. The National Committee
is very active and is organizing several technical activities within its
mandate. IRNCID is actively participarted in varous ICID workbodies. 21st
International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage, 62nd International
Executive Council Meeting and 8th International Micro Irrigation Congress
is scheduled to be held at Tehran in October 2011.