The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization this week designated Iran’s unique rain-fed fig-growing areas, leaves-fertilized agriculture on the outskirts of Tokyo, and rice and wagyu cattle-growing areas in western Japan as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Sites.

Three more sites in Asia have been added to the list of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems, the FAO said, further highlighting the importance of the continent’s ancient agricultural practices in meeting the food needs of a growing world population.

With the addition of three new sites, FAO’s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Network now covers 77 systems in 24 countries around the world. The selection criteria stated that sites must be of global importance and public good value, contribute to supporting food and livelihood security, maintain agricultural biodiversity, transmit knowledge systems and practices of sustainable agriculture, social values and culture, and shape outstanding humanities and natural landscape.

Iran’s unique rain-fed fig producing area

Esteban County, located in Fars Province in southwestern Iran, is one of the most important rain-fed fig producing areas in the world. The local area is a mountainous area, and the people living here have been growing figs for more than 250 years. Their orchards are full of various ancient and precious varieties, forming a unique style. In order to resist the extreme local temperature, orchard farmers use stone and clay to build diversion channels to guide water to the roots of fruit trees. This is an ancient and unique practice that can effectively prevent soil erosion and desertification.

Cultivation of rain-fed figs has produced important local economic and social benefits, providing direct and indirect livelihoods for thousands of families and providing food for domestic and wild animals. Local orchards also attract residents from major surrounding cities, who regularly spend a month or more each year coming to help pick.


Traditional agricultural production systems in the suburbs of Tokyo

Musashino is located on the outskirts of Tokyo, where agriculture, forestry and fishing are traditional local industries. In order to solve the problems of low soil nutrient levels and water shortages, local residents have explored the method of plowing forest fallen leaves into the fields as fertilizer after long-term practice, creating high-yield conditions for growing agricultural products.

What is even more amazing is that although Musashino is located in the outskirts of Tokyo, a world-class megacity, the locals still insist on practicing sustainable agriculture and making full use of various ecological functions. The history of the Musashino deciduous fertilizer system can be traced back to the 17th century, when the capital of Japan was Edo, and the population was growing rapidly. In order to meet the food needs of the Edo people, farmers began to grow crops on this highland. To this day, local farmers still adhere to the tradition of supplementing the land with fallen leaves. For them, the farming process on this land cannot do without the important role played by fallen leaves.


Rice and Wagyu Production Areas in Western Japan

Kami Town is located in Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan. It is a mountainous area with dense forests. The integrated system of human and cattle coordination is a major feature of local agriculture. Rice is the main crop here, and there are a large number of terraced fields along the hillside. The soft green grass growing on the edge of the rice fields and rice straw provide ideal feed for more than 2,000 local Tajima cattle.

Tajima beef is a famous local specialty, also known as Kobe beef in the market, which is a breed of Wagyu. Kami’s rice farming system provides a favorable environment for growing Wagyu cattle, as well as a habitat for many rare flora and fauna, including various amphibians and a rare golden eagle. For generations, local farmers have dedicated themselves to maintaining and improving the genetic resources of Wagyu, following in the footsteps of their ancestors a firm step towards sustainable agriculture.


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