A picture taken on August 14, 2016 in a abandoned village near the southern Iranian city of Sirjan shows dead pistachio trees at a field that farmers left behind due to the lack of water. AFP / ATTA KENARE
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The pistachio trees at a village in southern Iran are long dead, bleached white by the sun – the underground water reserves sucked dry by decades of overfarming and waste. The last farmers left with their families 10 years ago, and the village has the look of an abandoned Martian colony.Iran faces two key challenges – dealing with a yearslong nationwide drought that shows little sign of abating, and trying to convince farmers to stop the uncontrolled pumping of water.Some 300,000 of Iran's 750,000 water pumps are illegal – a big reason why the United Nations says Iran is officially transitioning from a state of "water stress" to "water scarcity". In 2013, Iran's Chamber of Commerce carried out a survey showing that Kerman province was losing about 20,000 hectares of pistachio farms every year to desertification. The family installed a drip-irrigation system eight years ago that carefully controls the amount and quality of water delivered to each plant.
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