A hydroponics system in Bangladesh, based on floating gardens, has been recognised by the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) for innovation, sustainability, and adaptability.
Farmers in some parts of the country where flood waters can remain for a prolonged period of time have developed floating gardens in which plants can be grown on the water on floating organic beds of water hyacinth, algae and other plant residues.
This environmentally friendly traditional cultivation technique utilises the natural resources of wetlands to grow vegetables and other crops almost all year round, providing numerous social, economic, agricultural, and ecological benefits to the local population.
Bangladesh's floating gardens along with a trio of sites in Japan -- sustainable river fisheries in Gifu, apricot farming on nutrient-poor slopes in Wakayama, and mountainous agriculture and forestry system in Miyazaki -- got the official recognition during a joint meeting of the GIAHS Steering and Scientific Committee at the FAO headquarters in Rome last week.
The new designations take the number of GIAHS to 36 sites, located across 15 countries in Africa, Latin America, Near East and Asia.
FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo said on Tuesday, "In the context of today's environmental and economic challenges and climate change, small-scale and family farmers, and especially traditional agriculture, can offer real solutions for food security, the conservation of natural resources and sustainable rural development, if adequate policies and investment are directed to them."
GIAHS was launched by FAO in 2002, and has been recently endorsed by member countries.
3 Japanese GIAHS
Ayu of the Nagara River System in Gifu
Nagara is one of the cleanest rivers in Japan that provides a number of ecosystem services. Various components of the system such as rivers, forests and farmlands are closely linked to each other. The sustainable inland fisheries of a specific type of fish (Ayu) benefit from clean waters of the Nagara River which are maintained through upstream forest management. Local communities have lived within this linked ecosystem and have developed their livelihoods and cultural practices.
Minabe-Tanabe Ume System in Wakayama
Minabe-Tanabe Ume System allows for the production of high-quality Ume (Japanese apricots) and various kinds of fruits on nutrient-poor slopes. Local communities have created a thriving Ume fruit production environment by maintaining upper coppice forests for landslide prevention and maintenance of water, and Japanese honeybee for pollinators. By permitting the production of a diverse range of products, the system ensures stable livelihoods and makes communities more resilient to disasters.
Takachihogo-Shiibayama Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry System in Miyazaki
This site is located in a steep mountainous area where flat land is extremely scarce. In this severe environment, local people have established a distinctive and sustainable system of agriculture and forestry, which balances timber production with diverse farming activities -- such as terraced rice growing, shiitake mushroom cultivation, beef cattle raising, or tea cultivation. The forest is maintained as a "mosaic" of conifers and broadleaf trees using traditional practices.