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Food security in Iran: Edareh-ye Arzaq, 1910–1935

Published Date: October 12, 2021

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October 12 ,2021
6.12 x 9.22

About the Book

Until recent times, Iran regularly had to cope with local or national famines. The various governments, until the second decade of the twentieth century, had neither a policy nor institutional arrangements to deal with grain shortages, artificial or not, and the resulting famines. In severe cases of famine governments might have temporarily intervened in the market, but usually they left care for the hungry to private philanthropy. Invariably, this private effort was inadequate when compared to needs. Although there were earlier incidental efforts, it was only as of 1918 that a beginning was made for more permanent and structural pro-active measures to prevent rather than to combat famine. The creation of the Edareh-ye arzaq or Alimentation Service in Tehran and Tabriz to ensure food security saved thousands of lives in the years that followed. Despite this result, its work is almost totally ignored; there is not even an encyclopedia article about its activities. In this study, Willem Floor discusses the early efforts to combat famine as well as the beginning of a more targeted and structural approach developed by Lambert Molitor in Tabriz during 1917–18 as well as its application in Tehran as of 1918. Whereas in Tabriz, after 1918, the approach was reactive, in Tehran a pro-active program was developed, which as of 1922 became part of the tasks of the Millspaugh mission. During 1926–27 there was even a quasi-national food security program. After Millspaugh’s departure in 1927 the food security of Tehran became an entirely Iranian affair, which as of 1935 was transferred from the Alimentation Service to a State company that had a national food security responsibility.


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About the Author

Willem Floor studied development economics and non-western sociology, as well as Persian, Arabic and Islamology from 1963-67 at the University of Utrecht (the Netherlands). He received his doctoral degree from the University of Leiden in 1971. Since 1983, Dr. Floor was employed by the World Bank as an energy specialist, however, after his retirement in 2002, he has dedicated his time to the study of the social and political history of Iran, and has published extensively throughout this time. His books include: Public Health in Qajar Iran,  Agriculture in Qajar Iran, and The History of Theater in Iran, as well as, The Persian Gulf: A Political and Economic History of 5 Port Cities, 1500-1730, its second volume, Persian Gulf: The Rise of the Gulf Arabs, 1747-1792, third volume, The Rise and Fall of Bandar-e Lengeh, the fourth volume, Bandar Abbas: The Natural Gateway of Southeast Iran, and the fifth volume, The Persian Gulf: Links with the Hinterland Bushehr, Borazjan, Kazerun, Banu Ka’b, & Bandar AbbasThe Persian Gulf: The Hula Arabs of The Shibkuh Coast of Iran, and The Persian Gulf: Dutch-Omani Relations A Commercial & Political History 1651-1806, and The Persian Gulf: Muscat – City, Society and Trade . He has also published, Travels Through Northern Persia, 1770-1774, Titles and Emoluments in Safavid Iran, and A Social History of Sexual Relations in Iran; Labor and Industry in Iran, 1850-1941; Guilds, Merchants and Ulama in 19th Century Iran; The Rise and Fall of Nader Shah; Games Persians Play, and History of Bread in Iran. His translations include: Samuel Gottlieb Gmelin’s Travels Through Northern Persia 1770–1774 , and with Hasan Javadi, Abbas Qoli Aqa Bakikhanov’s The Heavenly Rose-Garden: A History of Shirvan & Daghestan; Evliya Chelebi’s Travels in Iran and the Caucasus, 1647 and 1654; A Man of Two Worlds: Pedros Bedik in Iran, 1670–1675, Awake: A Moslem Woman’s Rare Memoir of Her Life and Partnership with the Editor of Molla Nasreddin, the Most Influential Satirical Journal of the Caucasus and Iran, 1907–1931, and Engelbert Kaempfer: Exotic Attractions in Persia, 1684–1688: Travels & Observations.

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