Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

A GIAHS is a living, evolving system of human communities in an intricate relationship with their territory, cultural or agricultural landscape or biophysical and wider social environment. 

In 2002, during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations launched a Global Partnership Initiative on conservation and adaptive management of “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems”.

The overall goal of the GIAHS Programme is to identify and safeguard Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems and their associated landscapes, agricultural biodiversity, knowledge systems, and culture.

In this article, the background, origin, objectives, and significance of GIAHS have been discussed in detail. This information is important from the IAS Exam and other government exam perspectives. 

GIAHS [UPSC Notes]:-Download PDF Here

Complement your civil services exam preparation with the links given below and also get acquainted with the UPSC Syllabus at the linked article:

World Food Programme (WFP) Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC)
Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC 2021) Food Corporation of India (FCI)
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Mega Food Parks – 22 Major Food Parks

GIAHS – A Brief Background

  • The concept of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) is distinct from, and more complex than, a conventional heritage site or protected area/landscape. They are outstanding landscapes of aesthetic beauty that combine agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and a valuable cultural heritage
  • Since 2005, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has designated 62 systems in 22 countries as agricultural heritage sites, and as of June 2021, 15 new proposals from 9 different countries were received
  • Significance of GIAHS – These ancestral agricultural systems constitute the foundation for contemporary and future agricultural innovations and technologies. Their cultural, ecological and agricultural diversity is evident in many parts of the world, maintained as unique systems of agriculture.
  • Threat to GIAHS – The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems are threatened by many factors including climate change and increased competition for natural resources. They are also dealing with migration due to low economic viability, which has resulted in traditional farming practices being abandoned and endemic species and breeds being lost

UPSC aspirants can also read about The Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is now being recommended to be categorised as an “in-danger” coral reef system due to the increasing threat to its existence. GBR is one of the seven wonders of the natural world and the largest coral reef system in the world. 

Kickstart your IAS Exam preparation now and complement your preparation with the links given below:

Objectives of GIAHS

The key objectives of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems are as follows:

  • To leverage global and national recognition of the importance of agricultural heritage systems and institutional support for their safeguard
    • Global recognition can be achieved by the support of government, UNESCO, FAO governing bodies, World Heritage Centre and other partners
  • Capacity building of local farming communities and local and national institutions to conserve and manage GIAHS, generate income and add economic value to goods and services of such systems in a sustainable fashion
  • To promote enabling regulatory policies and incentive environments to support the conservation, evolutionary adaptation and viability of GIAHS
  • Assessment of existing policies and incentive mechanisms, and identification of modalities to provide support for sustainable agricultural practices
  • Enhancing the benefits derived by local populations from conservation and sustainable use of their resources 
  • To strengthen conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources, reducing vulnerability to climate change, enhancing sustainable agriculture and rural development

Also, refer to the links below:

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages in India 

UPSC 2021

GIAHS Conservation – Strategy and Approach

For the conservation of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems continuous agro-ecological and social innovation combined with careful transfer of accumulated knowledge and experience across the generations is necessary. 

In order to provide systematic support to the conservation and adaptive management of agricultural heritage systems, the GIAHS Programme promotes intervention strategies at three distinct levels:

  • Global Level – It facilitates international recognition of the concept of GIAHS wherein globally significant agrobiodiversity are harboured. It also consolidates and disseminates lessons learned and best practices from project activities at the pilot country level
  • National Level – In pilot countries, project activities will ensure mainstreaming of the GIAHS concept in national sectoral and inter-sectoral plans and policies
  • Local/site Level – The project activities address conservation and adaptive management at the community level

Agricultural Heritages in India & Around the World

Given below is the distribution of GIAHS region-wise (as of June 2021):

Region GIAHS Across the World
Africa  3 Agricultural Heritage Systems: 1 in Kenya and 2 in Tanzania
Asia and the Pacific 40 Agriculture Heritage Systems: 1 in Bangladesh; 15 in China; 2 in India; 3 in Iran; 11 in Japan; 1 in the Philippines; 5 in the Republic of Korea; 1 in Sri Lanka; 1 in the Territory of Jammu and Kashmir

In this region,10 proposals are submitted to become GIAHS sites from 5 different countries

Europe and Central Asia 7 Agriculture Heritage Sites: 2 in Italy; 4 in Spain; and 1 in Portugal
Latin America and the Caribbean 4 Agriculture Heritage Sites: 1 each in Brazil, Chile, Peru and Mexico
Near East and North Africa 8 agricultural heritage sites: 2 in Morocco, 3 in Tunisia, 1 each in United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Algeria

The three GIAHS in India are:

  1. Koraput Traditional Agriculture, Odisha
  2. Kuttanad Below Sea Level Farming System, Kerala
  3. Pampore Saffron Heritage, Jammu & Kashmir

Candidates can get a comprehensive List of Agricultural Revolutions in India along with their highlights and specifications at the linked article. 

GIAHS [UPSC Notes]:-Download PDF Here

Furthermore, to get updated with the latest exam notifications, study material and preparation tips, candidates can visit BYJU’S.

Other Related Links
IAS Salary Green Revolution 
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) United Nations Development Programme
List of Government Schemes to Promote Innovative Farming Techniques What is Biodiversity Conservation and its Importance?
UNESCO Science Report List of Environmental Conventions and Protocols

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