Phase out of Methyl bromide

Agriculture in Iran

The agricultural sector is an important pillar of the Iranian economy. It account for 11% of the GDP and about 10% of non-oil exports. In Iran there are about 2.8 million production units, ranging from large to small companies including family run farms.

Methyl Bromide in Post Harvest Treatment

Methyl bromide was introduced in Iran in 1965 and was registered as a fumigant to control pests on commodity and soil; it was mainly used on seedlings in Gilan and Mazandaran provinces.

In 1998, approximately 65% of Methyl Bromide, except quarantine and pre-shipment, was used for post harvest treatment, mainly for the fumigation of dried fruits and dates.

In November 1999, The 29th Meeting of Executive Committee for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol approved the project for phasing out Methyl Bromide in the post harvest sector. This included the fumigation of dried fruits, nuts, rice and wheat and other seeds. The complete phase-out was achieved in 2006.

Phosphine was selected as the most suitable alternative to replace methyl bromide due to its fairly good efficacy, very good cost effectiveness and application technology available in Iran.

The project included a series of training and the upgrading of five fumigation chambers, which were distributed among Khuzestan, Bushehr, Kerman, Fars and Hamedan provinces.

Methyl Bromide in Soil Fumigation

A second project, targeted the phase-out of methyl bromide in soil fumigation in the olive tree seedlings, fruit trees nurseries and other seedlings, was approved by the Executive Committee at its 47th Meeting in November 2005.

Olive Production

In 1993, a National Program for the development of olive production was launched in Iran; it aimed at increasing the supply capacity of olive oil and olive products, for the domestic and export market. According to the Ministry of Jihad and Agriculture, the area cultivated with olive increased from 4,500 ha, in 1993, to 65,000 ha, in 2002.

In 2003, 99% the total amount of methyl bromide used for soil treatment was used for olive-tree nurseries, as part of the government’s plan to increase domestic olive production. Small quantities were used for other type of nurseries, such as fruit trees and ornamental plants.

The selection of the most appropriated alternative to replace methyl bromide as soil fumigant for olive seedlings was based on experience obtained from projects carried out in other countries and under similar conditions, particular attention was paid to technology transfer and technology availability in Iran, opportunities for commercial application of the alternative and sustainability in terms of cost and efficacy.

The alternative technology selected was steam pasteurization in combination with Integrated Pest Management (IPM). If carried out properly, steam is probably the best alternative to methyl bromide; it is not only equally effective but also more environmentally friendly.

The project provided 35 steam boilers specifically designed for soil pasteurization. The technology was developed by an Iranian enterprise based on UNIDO’s technical assistance.

A training program on the application of the steam technology and Integrated Pest Management was organized, through the organization of farmers, it included field demonstrations and study tours. About 870 farmers were trained.

This project was implemented thanks also to the excellent collaboration of the National Ozone Unit (NOU) of the Department of Environment, who provided the legal framework and network required to implement this project.