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Systèmes Ingénieux du Patrimoine Agricole Mondial (SIPAM)

GIAHS Sets up a New Win-Win Model in China

Beijing, China, 17 April 2013

China is a ‘mega-biodiversity’ country, holding about one-tenth of total world species; it is also a country of ‘mega-cultural diversity’ with 56 minorities, each having its own unique culture, traditions, folk arts and languages. Despite this biological and cultural diversity, China’s agricultural heritage, rooted in over a 1,000 years of history, was about to be lost forever. Thanks to the efforts of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and other international and local organizations, the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) initiative was introduced, and today China is benefiting from increased national awareness of the importance of its own agricultural heritage.

During the last eight years, China has created a win-win GIAHS model that other countries can learn from and easily duplicate when establishing their own GIAHS initiative. GIAHS has attracted much public attention in China and around the world. An important factor in this success is its timeliness; the GIAHS initiative was created when issues related to rural ecological degradation, environmental pollution, climate change and rural development, particularly food safety, rose to the top of the public and political agenda. For example, one of the GIAHS activities was focused on agricultural product labelling. Currently, many people worldwide do not trust product labelling and certification. This is because poor management and supervision has weakened the certification process, which has directly compromised food safety. In China GIAHS stakeholders have agreed to adhere to strict certification guidelines, and today the GIAHS logo is perceived as trustworthy, restoring  public confidence in labeling and certification.