By Andrew Lumsden, Research Fellow
Although Iran is primarily thought of as an oil-producing country, it is also one of the Middle East’s largest and most diverse agricultural producers. Due to the country’s expansive geography and extremely varied climate, Iran is able to produce a wide range of agricultural products, including grains such as wheat, barley and rice; fruits such as melons and grapes, as well as teas and medicinal herbs.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, close to 30% of Iran’s territory consists of croplands and livestock pastures. From an economic standpoint, the agricultural sector makes up about 10% of Iran’s GDP and employs about 16% of its labor force. Despite its size and importance to the country’s overall economy however, Iran’s agricultural sector still consists primarily of small, privately owned farms, generally no bigger than 24 acres. (The average family farm in the U.S. state of Texas, by contrast, is about 523 acres)