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Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Rice Fish Culture




Site location: China: Qintian county in Zhejiang province; Congjiang county in Guizhou province.

Area of GIAHS: 460 ha

Population working for this system: -

Topological Characteristics: -

Climatic Classification: -

Ethnic Groups/Indigenous People: Han and other minorities like Mong

Primary Income Sources: agriculture, work abroad


In Asia fish farming in wet rice fields has a long history. A Chinese clay plate dating to the Han Dynasty 2000 years ago shows a fish swimming from its pond into a rice field.

Ecological symbiosis exists in the traditional rice-fish agricultural system: fish provides fertilizer to rice, regulates micro-climatic conditions, softens the soil, disturbs the water, and eats larvae and weeds in the flooded fields; rice provides shade and food for fish.

Furthermore, multiple products and ecological services from the co-ecosystems are beneficial to local farmers and the environment. The high quality food of fish and rice are helpful to maintain farmers’ nutrient and living standard: the reduced cost and labor increases the productive efficiency, and, especially by reducing the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides for insect and weed control, helps in agro-biological conservation and field environmental protection. The rice-fish system in Longxian village of Zhejiang province demonstrates an ingenious approach to generating ecological, economic and social benefits through encouraging essential ecological functions.