Indigenous farming techniques of India may soon become part of global agricultural heritage systems.
The rice crop of Koraput, salt water farms of Kuttanad, and paddy fields of Thanjavur will soon be enlisted as heritage systems under an initiative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) designed to safeguard unique agricultural systems in an era of climate change. Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) are regions of outstanding biodiversity that reflect the natural evolution of farming and may help provide natural solutions to changing climates in the future.
“These sites are protecting our food security. They are our heritage…The techniques were developed by farmers not by scientists or anything else. The technology is their own,” said renowned agricultural scientist Dr M. S. Swaminathan, ahead of an international conference on biodiversity.
Orissa’s Koraput region, India’s first candidate for GIAHS status, has been nominated for the variety of rice, millets pulses, and medicinal plants developed using traditional cultivation practices by tribal groups. Papers for Kuttanad in Allapuzha, Kerala, where cultivation is done below sea level, have been submitted to the FAO and the 2,000-year-old system of irrigating paddy in Thanjavur should follow, Ajay Parida, Executive Director, MSSRF said.
Thus far systems from just five countries have been identified as GIAHS: Andean agriculture in Peru, Chiloe agriculture in Chile, the Ifuago rice terraces of the Philippines, the Magreb Oases in Algeria and the Upland pastures across Kenya and Tanzania.