The food crisis between the First World War and the Second
World War caused a severe drop in agricultural productivity, especially in
This has shifted the focus of national and international
authorities from mere development toward agro-oriented development.
Adopting this approach led to the emergence of the Green
Revolution which resulted in an increase of the agricultural yield per acre.
The Green Revolution was associated with using high-yield
seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, mechanization, livestock
antibiotics, radiation, genetically modified (GM) crops, and applying modern
The strategies of the Green Revolution focused on applying
biological research conducted in the public and private sectors to create
modern know-how, production of high-yield varieties, commercialization of
agricultural inputs, as well as farmers’ empowerment for gaining and applying
modern knowledge and inputs.
From a technical viewpoint, the Green Revolution could be
assumed to be a chemical and biological revolution; however, from a
socioeconomic standpoint, it could be called a commercial revolution, too,
since it facilitated territorial capitalism through technocratic and reformist
In particular, during the Cold War in the early 1960s, it
was thought that such a strategy would be effective for replacing technical
change with institutional-structural changes, or using scientific advances as a
substitute for development.
However, the Green Revolution was followed by many
criticisms including that its strategies focused only on prosperous areas and
pioneer farmers; furthermore, it was associated with many natural challenges
such as pollution of underground water resources, ecological imbalance, and threatening
the genetic resources of indigenous varieties and environmental challenges due
to chemical overdosing.
All of these problems led to exacerbate social disparity in
The negative consequences of the Green Revolution,
originating in the inherent weakness of modernity, encouraged many
intellectuals to find alternative solutions, of which organic farming was
invented – a comprehensive management system which does not apply chemicals and
Applying natural inputs, including bio-fertilizers,
composts, ecological pest solutions, organic farming follows environmental
standards including soil protection and ecosystem indices during cropping,
harvesting and post-harvest handling.
An organic crop is a result of applying environmentally
compulsory and voluntary standards including production, transportation,
packaging, as well as observing MRLs.
The market of organic agricultural crops follows the
“agricultural certificate format” and labeling, which determines the production
stages based on the ecological and social indices of each region.
The reference authorities develop certification standards in
order to address the production system to produce according to international
For example, according to the Japan Agricultural Organic Standard
(JAS), only certified crops by the authentic agencies are marketable. The
MRLs (including pesticides) and heavy metal content of such crops follows the
CODEX, ADL and similar certificated systems. The USDA has developed the
national organic plan from 2003, based on which, only certified crops are
marketable in the national markets.
Boosting the marketability and marginal profit of organic
crops, this regulation helps government to allocate subsidy farm aid to fork
stages, since the certification of organic crops is a complicated and costly
In Iran, the Ministry of Agricultural Jihad has been
attempting to coordinate different standards to address the market of organic
agricultural crops. However, we need special and strong regulations.
The public attitude toward “organic business” is a kind of
“technical and professional arrangement.” However, in my view, development of
an organic business requires institutional-structural arrangements, a
registration system for producers, a tracing system, main monitoring system,
transparent regulation, as well as bio immunity of production, which inherently
carries a technical order, too.
The Iran Organic Standards (INSO 11000) should be
institutionalized. Currently, thousands of companies, unions and confederations
are developing according to organic-based approaches in Europe. The organic
movement is being supported by many social activists who are trying to promote
agricultural production based on environmental, social and economic indices.
Development of GAP and AS are the achievements of such
activities, which observe quality management.
I hope in the near future, with the cooperation of
Parliament, agricultural societies and organizations, agricultural guild
systems, businessmen and the private sector, cooperative unions and NGOs, the
organic union will be developed in order to secure the structural requirements,
standards and regulations. This would facilitate the production of organic
crops which could be supplied in the international markets.
The development of the organic food industry in Iran
requires a package which includes regulations, state subsidies, low-interest
loans, foreign investor incentives, export incentives, risk management funds,
boosting marginal profit as competitive advantages as well as a firm extension
and education system.
Undoubtedly, the organic business would be a lucrative food
industry in Iran with the cooperation of university elites, the Iran Organic
Association (IOA), the Agricultural Jihad Ministry, and the Central Organization
for Rural Cooperatives (CORC).
*Hossein Shirzad is a deputy minister of Agricultural Jihad
and CEO of CORC.