Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) is to promote public understanding, awareness about sustainable agriculture and to safeguard the social, cultural, economic and environmental goods and services these provide to family farmers, smallholders, indigenous peoples and local communities
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) leads the programme Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), which helps identify ways to mitigate threats faced by these systems and their people and enhance the benefits derived from these dynamic systems.
Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems recognize remarkable land use systems and landscapes full of life and biodiversity, resilient ecosystems, and valuable cultural heritages managed by farmers, herders, fisherfolk, and forest people.
Communities that have preserved and developed complex, diverse, and locally adapted agricultural systems that nowadays provide sustainably many goods and services, food, and livelihood to millions of people. The Programme has to date designated over 60 sites around the world.
The concept of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) gave wider approach to the traditional farming by synthesis of modern techniques towards conservation and adaptive management of agricultural heritage systems.
1. To identify and provide institutional support to nature friendly agricultural practices of local and tribal populations.
2. Capacity building of local farming communities to conserve and manage revenue based farming.
3. To mitigate risks of erosion of biodiversity and traditional knowledge, land degradation and threats.
4. To strengthen conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources.
GIAH sites in India
1. Saffron Heritage of Kashmir (2011)
Saffron is mentioned in the 5th century B.C in Kashmiri records and is still part of the agricultural economy. Integrated an annual crop system, Saffron is also a cash crop. With respect to occupation, only 1 per cent of saffron growers are dependent on any other agriculture. Saffron is part of the cultural heritage of the region, associated with the famous Kashmiri cuisine, its medicinal values and the rich cultural heritage of Kashmir. Looking at the social organization, Kashmiri women are behind the whole saffron story being the custodian of the knowledge.
2. Koraput Traditional Agriculture (2012)
Traditional systems in the Koraput Region are strongly linked to the local traditional communities. From their knowledge and practices, a high biodiversity has been conserved through an in-situ conservation preserving endemic species. The food production is not always enough to satisfy all of their needs during the whole year. Being sustainable and integrated to its environment, the traditional farming systems of the local communities plays a role in conserving the rich floristic diversity consisting of about 2500 species of flowering plants
3. Kuttanad – Below Sea Level Farming System (2013)
Kuttanad is a delta region of about 900 sq. km situated in the west coast of Kerala State. The area is a larger mosaic of fragmented landscape patches and varied ecosystems such as coastal backwaters, rivers, vast stretches of paddy ﬁelds, marshes, ponds, garden lands, edges, corridors and remarkably networked water ways.
The Kuttanad Below Sea-level Farming System (KBSFS) is unique, as it is the only system in India that practices rice cultvation below sea level. Farmers of Kuttanad have developed and mastered the spectacular technique of below sea level cultivation over 150 year ago. The unique system contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem including several livelihood services for local communities.
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