A traditional saffron cultivation system in Iran, an argan-based agro-pastoral system in Morocco, and an ancient olive trees system in Spain at the close of December won recognition from FAO as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS).
All the sites feature unique ways to produce nutritious foods and/or spices using traditional knowledge and skills while improving local people’s livelihoods and preserving biodiversity, the UN FAO’s official website reads.
The sites were designated by the GIAHS Scientific Advisory Group based on selection criteria, including: global importance, their value as a public good in terms of supporting food and livelihood security, agro-biodiversity, knowledge systems, adapted technologies, cultures, and outstanding landscapes.
It is the third time that sites in Iran and Spain are added to the global agricultural heritage systems list and the second time for Morocco. FAO’s global agricultural heritage network now consists of 57 remarkable landscapes in 21 countries around the globe.
Argan-based agro-pastoral system in Ait Souab-Ait Mansour Region
The agro-forestry-pastoral system in Ait Souab-Ait Mansour is a unique region where argan trees have been cultivated for centuries. This system is based on agroforestry practices in dry stone terraces being highly resilient to arid environment, water scarcity and poor soils. It uses only locally adapted species and pastoralism activities and relies on a traditional water management provided by the Matifiya – a rain water reservoir carved into rock.
The Amazigh indigenous communities as well as communities of Arab origin have developed a specific culture and identity sharing their traditional knowledge and skills. Although farmers earn the majority of their income from the cultivation of argan trees, the integrated system also provides them with other food and material such as staple crops, cereals, fire wood, meat and wool.