Saturday, September 18, 2004

IranMania News

IranMania News: "Iran pistachio under attack again

Saturday, September 18, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

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LONDON, Sep 18 (IranMania) - Iran's famed pistachio nuts, already threatened with European Union import restrictions, have come under attack again -- this time from hungry porcupines, Agence France Press (AFP) reported.

A prolonged drought and food shortage in the Islamic republic's rural southeast has sent prickles of root-munching porcupines searching for food in the region's vast pistachio forests.

The head of the Natural Resources Department of Baft City in Kerman Province, Nasser Aqa-Molaei, said the prickly creatures have been nibbling at the roots of the trees and making them dry out.

Reports said officials have resorted to surrounding the trunks of damaged trees with mesh wire in order to keep the porcus spina from destroying the crop of Iran's favorite table-top nibble.

But Molaei also complained his service did not have a sufficient budget to protect Baft's 3.8 million pistachio trees.

Iran is the world's number one pistachio producer, claiming to hold 5% of the market. Pistachios, along with carpets, caviar and saffron, are a source of national pride and a top non-oil export.

The country is currently working to cut levels of a cancer-linked mould, aflatoxin, found in its nuts in order to avoid an EU import ban.

Exported nuts earn Iran around $803 mln a year in revenue, and around 16% of Iranian pistachio production goes to the EU."

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