The western and northwestern portions of the country have the most fertile soils. Iran's
One third of the total land area (35%) is used for grazing and small fodder production. Most of the grazing is done on mostly semi-dry rangeland in mountain areas and on areas surrounding the large deserts ("Dasht's") of Central Iran.
The non-agricultural surface represents 53% of the total area of Iran, as follows:
- Abb. 35% of the country is covered by deserts, salt flats ("kavirs") and bare-rock mountains, not suited for agricultural purposes.
- An additional 11% of Iran's total surface is covered by woodlands.
- And 7% is covered by cities, towns, villages, industrial areas and roads.
All these factors have contributed to low crop yields and poverty in rural areas. Further, after the 1979 revolution many agricultural workers claimed ownership rights and forcibly occupied large, privately owned farms where they had been employed. The legal disputes that arose from this situation remained unresolved through the 1980s, and many owners put off making large capital investments that would have improved farm productivity, further deteriorating production. Progressive government efforts and incentives during the 1990s, however, improved agricultural productivity marginally, helping Iran toward its goal of reestablishing national self-sufficiency in food production.