Volume 11, Issue 39 (Spring 2022 2022)                   2022, 11(39): 227-254 | Back to browse issues page

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1- PhD in Geography and Rural Planning, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran. , Rasti.hadi1392@gmail.com
2- Professor, Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Mazandaran, Babolsar, Iran.
3- Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Rural Planning, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.
Abstract:   (1430 Views)
Many villagers depened on palm farming, in the date palm tree-growing regions of Iran. Nonetheless, the date markets are facing many challenges for some reasons such as unsanitary, lack of sales market, lack or absence of maintenance industries, long-distance from production to factory, dispersion of villages, low product prices, climate incompatibility, lack of proper access to capital, high waste and sale of low value-added products to market intermidearies. These challenges in Makkoran region, one of the country's date-growing regions, are more than other places due to climatic and environmental constraints and infrastructure deficiencies.
Date palm farming activity in Makkoran region has many problems in terms of marketing, price, exports, and required infrastructure; thus, the date product of this region are exported by middlemen often in bulk and low added value to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates and large cities in the country.
Therefore, the present study, in response to this need, uses the actor-network theory of Latour, Callon, and Law (1986-2009), aiming to identify the processes of translating actions and the spatial relationships between actors as a theoretical lens because according to Latour view (1987) actors (human and non-human) are negotiating and translating each other's goals to make a connection. Therefore, the present study seeks to answer these questions: What actors are involved in the date market of the Makkoran region, and what are the existing and emerging spatial relationships between these actors? Is there a significant relationship between them? In translation processes which actors and spatial relations need membership, expulsion, or reform?

This research employed an exploratory-sequential mixed-methods research design. The statistical population is 17493 date palm farmers in Makkoran region. Sampling was performed via a purposive-probability sampling method to determine the sample size via the "data saturation" criterion in the qualitative stage, and the "representation" criterion in the quantitative stage. The sample size consisted of 111 date palm farmers and 16 related experts in the qualitative stage and 376 date palm farmers and 32 experts in the quantitative stage. Qualitative data were obtained through in-depth semi-structured interviews with date palm farmers and experts, and quantitative data were obtained through a questionnaire from date palm farmers and experts. Then, based on "sequential mixed-methods analysis," qualitative data were processed and analyzed using NVIVO software, and quantitative data were processed and analyzed using SPSS software. According to Latour's argument (1987), the " translation " method made the final analysis and inference.

Discussion and conclusion
Based on research findings, sales status and the price of the date product improves from south to north of Makkoran region. Hence, situational and climatic actors play a crucial role in product sales status and price change, especially Mazafati dates in the south part of the region. These actors may force date palm farmers to harvest early (at the Kharak stage) and reduce product prices. To achieve their goals and interests, human actors (date palm farmers and governments) inevitably align with the tendencies of non-human actors (such as geographical location and climate). Also, according to local date palm cultivars, which almost all of them need refrigeration, and depending on how it is accessed, date palm farmers to the refrigerator and the capital have changed the product's price. These two actors (refrigerator and capital) and date palm farmers have faced severe challenges and obstacles in terms of sales and product prices. Hence, date palm farmers inevitably sell their produce to brokers at low and insignificant prices. Of course, this is not a one-sided situation; but with the constructive support of the government, date palm farmers can play a more constructive and effective role in raising capital and creating the necessary refrigerator. They can reduce the power of the two agents of the refrigerator and capital by changing the palm cultivars (expanding the dry cultivars without the need for a refrigerator) or selling access to the refrigerator so they can sell their product at a reasonable price. This issue causes them to be present in the date market with more power and influence.
Nevertheless, in the current situation, the alliance of these two actors with other actors (space distance, transportation technology, road location) has led to the widespread influence of traders in the date market and has weakened its functions. The capital actor has a more prominent role in this regard, As it has been able to change the tendency of most date palm farmers to use a refrigerator and, to their detriment, to ally with brokers (predominantly local and regional brokers). Of course, the non-use of cold storage is not only related to capital but also situational and climatic actors in the south region. Also, due to a lack of proper access to capital, date palm farmers inevitably accept the rate offered by brokers; Local and regional brokers, in a solid alliance with telephone and capital actors, have prevented both major traders from entering the market and dragged the refrigerator into their network. Hence they have severed or severely shaken possible and necessary links between date palms and date palm farmers with target markets.
Thus, multiple spatial relations between actors (human and non-human) exist. Meanwhile, date brokers have conquered the date market to the detriment of producers by creating a strong network of spatial relations and have found role and agency as the key actors. Often weakness and inefficiency of the main actors (palms and government) and the alliance of capital and cold storage actors with brokers have led to such a detrimental consequence; however, these spatial relations are transformed by the participation of new actors (non-native palms, cold storage, etc.).

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Type of Study: Research | Subject: Special
Received: 2022/06/18 | Accepted: 2022/05/31

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