The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) formally declared the Kuttanad below sea-level farming system as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) at the International Forum on GIAHS held at Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan from May 29 to June 1.
Sources said agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan attended the conference, though an earlier decision was to send a delegation to the Forum. The government is expected to declare the heritage status soon.
The Government of Kerala and the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) had jointly field an application to the FAO. N. Anil Kumar, head of the Biodiversity Programme of the MSSRF in Wayanad, had presented the case before the GIAHS World Forum in Kanasawa in Japan in December 2011.
The GIAHS official website says “Farmers of Kuttanad have developed and mastered the spectacular technique of below sea-level cultivation over 150 year ago. They made this system unique as it contributes remarkably well to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services, including several livelihood services for local communities”.
The global focus on the Kuttanad unique system of farming will be reinforced by the setting up of proposed international-level institute for below sea-level farming in Kuttanad. Already a Ramsar site, the bio-diversity of Kuttanad will have to be protected by the State government and its people.
The heritage status will boost efforts to retain paddy fields in Kuttanad. The below sea-level farming practised in Kuttanad is of great interests to countries such as Malaysia, Bangladesh and the Maldives.
Source:The Hindu 11 June 2013