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Global Leaders Programme Photo Story

28 September 9 October 2015

Participants on GIFTs 43rd Global Leaders Programme - 20 professionals from a dozen different countries and organisations

Modern day Iran has the second largest population in the Middle
East after Egypt and, despite being subject to economic sanctions
in recent years, Iran remains the regions second largest economy
after Saudi Arabia.
The agriculture industry comprises 9% of Irans GDP and 16% of
the labour force by occupation. Esfahan Province, one of the key
agriculture regions of the country is located in the central plateau
of Iran.
At the southern tip of the province is Semirom County, a region
largely dependent on agriculture and specifically the cultivation
of apples. 10% of the countrys apples come from the region and
are known for their characteristically sweet taste, aroma and
The development of Semiroms apple industry was the focus of
the field project for GIFTs 43rd Global Leaders Programme (GLP),
and the first one in the Middle East, during which participants
worked closely with the Esfahan Chamber of Commerce, the
Semirom Farmers Unions and other key stakeholders to support
the development of the regions apple industry.

GIFT would like to acknowledge and thank Professor Hideaki

Takahashi and Mr. Mehdi Afshari for contributing photos in the
pages that follow.

Upon arriving in Esfahan, the group received a brief on the project and region at large from Mr. Afshari, former
parliamentary representative of Semirom County (bottom right) and key advocate and ally of the project. They met with
Mr. Jabbari (bottom left, far right), Board Member of the Esfahan Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture
(ECCIMA) and other key representative of the organisation at the historic Zohreh Hotel. The initial meeting was to get
acquainted with representatives of the key partners who will work to implement the project.

The group travelled to Semirom County and Padena District, located at the southern tip of Esfahan Province, for site visits and
to meet with local stakeholders. On the way, the group stopped in Kommeh, the capital of Padena district to meet with local
government officials and discuss the challenges that farmers in the region face as a result of low yield, water scarcity and
access to reliable labour (bottom left). They met with the Governor of Kommeh and Mr. Dezfouli, President (top left) and Mr.
Hemati, Chairman (top middle) of the Union of Producers and Exporters of Agriculture Products of Esfahan Province. The
journey was marked by stunning landscapes of apple orchards at the foothills of the Zagros Mountain range.

Map of Esfahan Province indicating Esfahan City and

Semirom. The group traveled to Padena District,
located 2 hours south of Semirom City and the edge of
the province.

While in Semirom, the group visited the apple orchard of Mr. Mousavi
(center). One of the main factors he expressed contributing to the low
production of apples in the region was the lack of access to high
quality fertalisers and inputs. Access to the market and buyers is an
additional concern for farmers of the region.
In the orchard, the group was able to experience first hand the
harvesting process from collection to sorting, packaging and
transportation to the local market.

The group was later welcomed by Mr. Gholami (middle, right), Governor of Padena at a primary school which was offered as
the venue for meetings with focus groups which included famers, local government officials, teachers and others from the
community. These focus groups helped shed light on the challenges faced by the farmers and community and their
anticipation of pending economic improvement.

In Semirom, the group was hosted by Mr. Nusrati, the Governor of Semirom (bottom left, center), who is flanked by the Head
of the Agriculture Bank of Semirom and the Deputy Governor of Semirom County.

In Semirom, the group was received at the Semirom University and met with over 80 farmers, government officials, students
and local representatives.
At the University, Mr. Mohammad BabaEsmailli (bottom, far left), Advisor to the Governor of Esfahan Province and GIFT
Alumni and Representative in Iran discussed the role that the Semirom Farmers Union will play in the implementation of
the project with Mr. Ghorbani (bottom left), President of the Union. GIFT Founder and CEO, Mr. Chandran Nair (bottom
right) also discussed the key obstacles which farmers are currently facing with an Agriculture Student at Semirom

In Semirom, the group met with Mr. Arjmandi (top, far right), Semiroms largest fruit and vegetable exporter. The
Arjmandi group buys approximately 60% of the apples grown in Semirom and exports the highest grade apples to
countries in the Middle East including the UAE and Turkey.
Professor Hideaki Takahashi (top, far left), GIFT Senior Mentor discusses the current sorting, packaging and transportation
equipment that the Arjmandi Group is utilising. The group also visited the Arjmandi sorting and packaging house and cold
storage facilities.

Back in Esfahan, the group met with Mr. Sahl Abadi, President of the Esfahan Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and
Agriculture (top left, far right) and other board members to discuss investment opportunities for the apple project in
Semirom. GIFT is pleased to announce its recent Memorandum of Understanding with the ECCIMA.
Following site visits and stakeholder meetings the group got to work developing business recommendations for the
ECCIMA and the Semirom Farmers Union to support the expansion of Semiroms apple industry.

The programme culminated in a forum where participants on the GLP presented their recommendations to the ECCIMA
the Semirom Farmers Union, the Agricultural Bank, Semirom farmers, university students and other key stakeholders.
These recommendations included the creation of a new entity, the Semirom Seeb Company (SSC) that would be active in
the collection & sorting, processing & packaging and sales & marketing of fresh apples and apple products. Seeb is the
Farsi word for apple. A new brand representing the uniqueness and quality of Semirom apples was proposed which
would be used to market and sell fresh apples in the short-term and apple products in the future. The presentation led to
lively discussion and probing questions from the audience.
The forum marked the end of the Global Leaders Programme for participants but the ECCIMA and Semirom Farmers
Unions' challenge has just begun
To learn more about the GLP contact Karim Rushdy at krushdy@global-inst.com or visit www.global-inst.com