Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Rice Fish Culture, China

GIAHS since 2005

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.

Twinning program partner: Historical Irrigation System at l'Horta de València, Spain


Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems: an opportunity to restore ecosystems and achieve the SDGs

GIAHS site representatives from China, Japan, Peru, Morocco, Spain and Tanzania shared their experiences and challenges on the sustainable use of natural resources as well as the types and functions of their ecosystem services. They explored how GIAHS can contribute to the objectives of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Best agricultural practices

Rice-fish Culture System

Rice-fish culture has great potential for being developed in countries with vast areas of irrigated rice fields. Standing water in rice fields promotes the development of a teeming ecosystem with aquatic animals such as fish, ducks, freshwater prawns, marine shrimps, crayfish, crabs, turtle, bivalve, frogs, snails and even insects. Read more


CHINA - Rice-Fish Culture