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Iran’s ambitious plans for conservation agriculture

October 4, 2011

In its Fifth National Development Plan, the government of Iran pledged to place 3 million ha of land (2 million rainfed cropping systems; 1 million irrigated) under conservation agriculture (CA) techniques. The enthusiasm of Iranian scientists and institutions for these plans were demonstrated when 150 people from different centers attended the workshop “Conservation Agriculture and its Impact on Water Productivity,” at Karaj, Iran, during 12-13 September 2011.

Organized in conjunction with the Seed & Plant Improvement Institute (SPII) and the Agricultural Engineering Research Institute (AERI), the event was coordinated by M.R. Jalal Kamali of CIMMYT-Iran, with assistance from Ken Sayre, CIMMYT-Mexico, and M.L. Jat, Senior Cropping Systems Agronomist, CIMMYT-India. Fifteen papers and reports were presented by CIMMYT and Iranian scientists, with further presentations by J. Porhemmat, Deputy Minister for Research and Head of the Agricultural Research, Education, and Extension Organization; M. Aghaee, SPII Director General; and S.A. Shahpari, AERI Director General. The Iranian institutions expressed their commitment to developing and extending appropriate CA-based crop management technologies to farmers in both rainfed and irrigated systems, and Iranian engineering and crop management scientists demonstrated their ample interest and technical competence to develop and deliver requisite technologies. It was postulated that Iran can obtain its goal for CA-based crop management technologies in the specified time period, with the necessary resources and policies and if, in particular, the government prioritizes resources for research and development and for capacity building.

Following the workshop, on 14 September M.L. Jat gave the presentation “CA-scope for soil quality improvement and nutrient management perspectives” at the Soil and Water Research Institute (SWRI). Intended to aid SWRI in planning and developing their research in this area, the presentation was attended by H. Besharati, SWRI Director General; Z. Khademi, SWRI Deputy Director General; and over 30 SWRI scientists.