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Frost aids US war on Iranian pistachio

Report by Press TV

Iran may lose its place as the world's largest pistachio producer to the US this year, following a sharp decrease in the pistachio harvest.

If that happens, the United States will take the position of world's top pistachio producer from Iran, although Iranian pistachios are of superior quality.

A cold spell during April's pistachio flowering season in Iran has reduced the 2008 harvest by about 75 percent compared to last year's record output of 280,000 tons.

"We actually never had production as low as this," said Behrooz Agah, a pistachio producer and exporter whose family has been in the business for generations, Reuters reported.

"For Iranian pistachio farmers, yes, it is a crisis," he added.

Iranian pistachio

Agah forecasts the lost revenue from pistachio exports to be $350-$400 million this year, despite the rising prices that have resulted from the decrease in supply. He added that frost problems would affect 2009's harvest of pistachios as well.

The US produced 190,000 tons of pistachios in 2007, mostly in the state of California, but production in 2008 could more than double according to reports.

"Americans are using all advertising tools and their financial power for victory in this market," Sarmayeh Daily newspaper quoted Mohammad Hossein Karimipour, head of the agricultural commission of Iran's chamber of commerce, as saying.

Washington has warned that the import of pistachio from Iran will hurt efforts to put pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program, According to Reuters.

In November 2007, The US Under-Secretary of Agriculture Mark Keenum urged the Israeli Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon to try to block the flow of Iranian pistachio to its markets. Simhon agreed, but asked for guidance on how Israel might proceed.

In June, the Iran Daily newspaper reported that the US tried "to improve its position in the global war of pistachio production and export by undermining Iranian trade in every way".

Pistachios are the top non-oil export of the Islamic Republic earning the country more than $1 billion hard currency on a yearly basis and providing about 140,000 jobs for farmers in the southeastern province of Kerman.

Tehran says Washington's efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear activates is in line with US-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic for nearly thirty years after the Islamic Revolution toppled a US-allied dictator and established a democracy in the country.

... Payvand News - 10/13/08 ... --

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