Protest by rice farmers in Ahvaz, Iran continues for fifth consecutive day against ban on summer planting

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On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, a group of rice farmers in Ahvaz gathered in front of the Khuzestan Governorate building for the fifth consecutive day in protest against the decision following the announcement of the ban on summer planting and the lack of agricultural water rights.

Rice growers who have gathered in protest since the start of the office hours in front of the governorate in Khuzestan, have called for the ban to be lifted, saying that the ban on rice planting, in the absence of any alternative for us, would destroy our livelihoods.

One of the protesting rice farmers said: “The governor of Khuzestan has not given us any clear answers, and they are still uncertain.”

On Wednesday, May 16th, Khuzestan rice farmers continued their protest against the ban on rice cultivation in the summer which began on Saturday, May 12th, announcing that thousands of people in Ahvaz would become unemployed after the ban.

Due to its water resources, rice farming has been one of the main occupations in Iran’s Khuzestan province. However, the government-backed institutions, especially the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), have in past years adopted a number of nonconstructive policies that have resulted in the drying of the province’s water sources. An example is the drying of the Hoor al-Azim marshes, which the Iranian government did to extract oil from the region. The project has destroyed the only source of income that many of the province’s farmers.

The province of Khuzestan has 70,000 hectares of rice cultivated lands, of which about 4 tons of rice are harvested per hectare. It is said that every hectare of rice is cultivated by up to 5 people, therefore the ban on cultivation will result in unemployment of 350,000 people.

Given the high unemployment rate across Iran, the affected farmers in Ahvaz can not even find employment in cities and are left with nothing to make ends meet.

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