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Systèmes Ingénieux du Patrimoine Agricole Mondial (SIPAM)

Chile’s Minister of Agriculture presented the GIAHS certificate of recognition to the ten municipalities of Chiloé

Chiloé, Chile, 16 October 2012

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has designated the Archipelago of Chiloé as "Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System". During the ceremony, held on 9 October 2012, Chile’s Minister of Agriculture Luis Mayol and FAO Representative in Chile, Alan Bojanic, presented the GIAHS certificate of recognition to the ten municipalities of Chiloé.

Some 300 participants attended the GIAHS award ceremony, including  high-level  authorities,  representatives of the Mapuche indigenous communities, family farmers and representatives of the tourism sector. The ceremony was held in the church of San Francisco de Castro,  a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the most important historical buildings in the region. The island of Chiloé was recognized as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System because of its rich biodiversity, and the ancestral farming techniques that have conserved local and indigenous crops for hundreds of years. These include 300 varieties of potatoes and the island’s unique breeds of sheep and horses.

Chile’s Minister of Agriculture Luis Mayol stated this award, “is an important recognition of the ancestral agricultural practices developed by Chiloé’s indigenous communities and their traditional knowledge”. He added, “It is also recognition of Chiloé’s contribution to the conservation of agricultural biodiversity, as well as to world food security.”

To highlight the significance of the GIAHS award, FAO Representative Alan Bojanic stated “This recognition pays tribute to the local people of  Chiloé and their ancestors, for their hard work, careful on-farm research and conservation”. Most importantly, he emphasized that this site is, “the origin of potatoes now consumed all over the world”.

To highlight Chiloé’s unique biodiversity, Bojanic mentioned that local wheat has retained its rare and distinctive characteristics for 400 years. It is anticipated that recognition of Chiloé  as an agricultural heritage will boost the region’s economy. It is foreseen that producers will seek national and international support to improve the marketing and conservation of Chiloé’s globally significant agricultural biodiversity.

Because of the importance of their ancestral conservation techniques,  Chiloé’s farmer-producers will travel to Italy to showcase their practices and participate in the Ninth  Slow Food International Congress, to be held in Turin, Italy, from 25 to 29 October 2012.

Cecilia Guineo, a Chiloé farmer representative, began to till earth at the age of seven with her grandparents. Now a key producer with 30 years of experience, she adds, "Even if different kinds of development and modernity  reach us, we  must not lose our most precious asset: our identity".

FAO’s recognition of these farmer’s unique identity and ancestral agricultural system will benefit both agricultural sustainability and off-farm income generation, such as tourism. It expected that the region’s , tour operators and the hotels of Los Lagos and in the Archipelago of  Chiloé, will be a factor in their own and the region’s  sustainable development.

Implementation of the GIAHS initiative was made possible through FAO’s Technical Cooperation Project, funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), in partnership with the  Ministry of Agriculture through the Office of Agricultural Studies and Policies (ODEPA) and the Ministerial Regional Secretariat of Agriculture (Seremi) of Los Lagos region. The Centre for Education and Technology, together with the regional government, provided active and direct technical support assisted by representatives of the private sector, the Rilán group and Chiloé farmers.

Link http://www.laestrellachiloe.cl/impresa/2012/10/10/full/2/ (Spanish)