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Sites in Iran and Italy designated FAO globally important agricultural heritage sites

Using traditional practices and knowledge while preserving biodiversity and ecosystems

30 November 2018, Rome - Traditional grape cultivation systems in Iran and Soave vineyards in Italy were formally recognised today as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), for their unique ways to produce grape and grape-based products using traditional practices and knowledge while preserving biodiversity and ecosystems.

The sites were designated during a meeting of the GIAHS Scientific Advisory Group taking place in Rome this week (28-30 November). The selection criteria includes that sites be of global importance, have value as a public good in terms of supporting food and livelihood security, agro-biodiversity, knowledge systems, adapted technologies, and culture, and have outstanding landscapes.

It is the second time that sites in Italy and Iran are added to the global agricultural heritage systems list. FAO's global agricultural heritage network now consists of 54 remarkable landscapes in 21 countries around the globe.

Grape Production System in Jowzan Valley in Iran

The grape and grape-based production system in Jowzan has a long history. Farmers have made the grape cultivation possible in extreme cold conditions thanks to unique techniques. Traditional knowledge and tools allow the farmers to process more than 40 different grape products out of 130 different grape varieties. This, together with higher yield per hectare, unique skills of gardeners, the right sugar level - are all factors that make grapes cultivation and raisins of the Jowzan Valley different from other parts of the country and a top seller among the consumers.

Over the years, the system has significantly improved the people's living standards, but also provided an impetus for tourism development, and a unique opportunity to boost rural economy.

Soave Traditional Vineyards in Italy

The hills and terraces of Soave represent one of the best-preserved agricultural systems of historical value in the Veneto region. The vine and wine production in the Soave area dates back to the era of the Roman Empire. The vineyards in their current state have been maintained by more than 3,000 families for 200 years. This system has kept the traditional ways of growing the local variety of grape Garganega and succeeded in ensuring a sustainable source of income to the various stakeholders involved in the production chain: grape growers, wine producers and bottlers, even during the most difficult periods.

Despite being made up of small or micro land parcels, the vineyards have made their mark in the highly competitive wine markets thanks to the strong cooperation and organization of the Soave Farmers Association determined to promote their unique know-how. The grapes grown in the system are used to produce one of the most famous Italian wines - vino Soave.   

Photo: ©Slim Zekri
Soave Traditional Vineyard in Italy.