Astan Quds Razavi is a major religious body in charge of managing the affairs of the holy shrine of the eighth Imam of Shia Muslims, Imam Reza, in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad. AQR is also actively engaged in various economic sectors, such as the agricultural industry. Astan News has taken a closer look at AQR’s role in the lucrative sector of agriculture.
AQR’s Agricultural Holding has a major share in the agricultural output of Iran’s northeastern Province of Khorasan. Using the latest agricultural tools and diverse cultivation methods, the subsidiary companies of the holding have managed to play a significant role in the country’s self-sufficiency. Through perseverance and increased efficiency, each of the companies has strived to produce diverse and high quality products.
Rapeseed is one of the target products in Sarakhs Agricultural Co. The company plans to cultivate this product over a 50-hectare land to reduce the import of oilseeds from other countries.
Meanwhile, measures such as timely and regular irrigation, management of plant nutrition and fertilization, timely pest control, diseases and weeds and timely harvesting by rapeseed harvesters with customized heads have paved the way for an increase in the yield of the product.
Due to diminishing water resources, South Khorasan Endowment and Agriculture Institute has sought to adopt appropriate cultivation methods last year. In this regard, the cultivation pattern of crops such as barley and wheat has given way to the cultivation of kitchen garden products, such as melons that are highly productive and use less water. Last year, the Institute harvested about 480 tons of melons over an area of 48 hectares.
Olive is another important product of the Institute. 31 tons of olive oil from 20 hectares this year were harvested from the Institute’s fertile gardens. In fact, this is only part of the capacity of the institute’s gardens, which have yielded high quality olive oil. The product has a profitable market in the provinces of Khorasan Razavi and South Khorasan. Olive gardens are also equipped with Bubbler Under-pressure Irrigation System, which saves water consumption and results in increased production efficiency.
The construction of pistachio nursery garden is a step toward agricultural development by the Endowment Organization of the Province of Semnan. The strategic position of the city of Damghan and the ancient history of pistachio production in the city, which acts as a bridge between the pistachio producing provinces in the country, has made it an ideal hub for pistachio gardens. The Institute is planning to build a nursery garden in Barm region in Damghan.
In 2018, about 70 tons of pistachio was produced over an area of 106 hectares. The products have been processed to increase the added value. After shelling and drying, sorting is the next step in pistachio processing. Last year, dry pistachio had higher added value.
Wheat crops were cultivated over around 220 hectares of farmland, using cultivars Sirvan and Pishgam. The cultivation of barley was also carried out in 2018 on 230 hectares using seed treatment methods.
Nemuneh Farm; Largest Agricultural and Livestock Unit of Astan Quds Razavi
Nemuneh Farm is another institute affiliated to the Agriculture Holding of Astan Quds Razavi, which aims to utilize soil and water resources for producing agricultural and livestock products. It also plans to build fruit gardens, cultivate flowers and medicinal plants, plant trees, build slaughterhouses and silos. The institute is the largest agricultural and livestock unit of Astan Quds Razavi.
It produces more than 11,000 tons of agricultural and livestock products each year and plays an important role in the region’s economy and the country’s development and employment.
The head of Nemuneh Farm, Ali Oraie, says in 2018, the institute cultivated over 1000 hectares of wheat, 205 hectares of barley, 164 hectares of rapeseed, 412 hectares of maize, 60 hectares of beet, 49 hectares of alfalfa and 40 hectares of pistachio.
“The Institute has 3 greenhouses, which cultivate summer produces such as tomatoes, cucumbers and colored bell peppers and sells them to the Iranian market. It also produces about 33 million vegetable seedlings each year using nursing methods and modern seeding machines,” he said.
“Garden products enter the market in Mashhad. Crops are dispatched to flour factories and Astan Quds Razavi’s food industry and greenhouse products enter Iran’s vegetable market while a proportion of them are exported,” stated Oraie.
Referring to the production of about 1500 tons of vermicompost by the Institute since the beginning of this year, he pointed out, “This fertilizer has many unique features, such as low EC, high amount of organic matter, high nutritional value and soil regeneration, which are only part of its benefits.”
“The area under cultivation in Nemuneh Farm consists of 16 hectares of apple, 40 hectares of plum, 40 hectares of pears, 50 hectares of apple. All gardens are equipped with under-pressure drip irrigation, and in model gardens, fogging and shading systems are used,” he remarked.
Moreover, more than 280 hectares of the Institute’s farmlands are equipped with drip irrigation systems.