India’s locally developed farming techniques look set to take their place on the world heritage map alongside the country’s national parks of outstanding beauty and its grand monuments to culture.

The rice crop of Koraput, the salt water farms of Kuttanad, and the paddy fields of Thanjavur could join the likes of Konarak, Kaziranga and the Taj Mahal, under an initiative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) designed to safeguard unique agricultural systems in an era of climate change.

“These sites are protecting our food security. They are our heritage… The techniques were developed by farmers, not by scientists or anything else. The technology is their own,” said M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman MSSRF, who was speaking to reporters ahead of an international conference on biodiversity at the Research Foundation next week.

Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) are regions of outstanding biodiversity that reflect the natural evolution of farming and may help provide natural solutions to changing climates in the future.

Orissa’s Koraput region, India’s first candidate for GIAHS status, has been nominated for the variety of rice, millets, pulses, and medicinal plants developed using traditional cultivation practices by tribal groups.

Papers for Kuttanad in Allapuzha, Kerala, where farmers have produced crops in sea water, have been submitted to the FAO and the 2,000-year-old system of irrigating paddy in Thanjavur should follow, Dr. Ajay Parida, Executive Director, MSSRF said.

Thus far, systems from just five countries have been identified as GIAHS: Andean agriculture in Peru, Chiloe agriculture in Chile, the Ifuago rice terraces of the Philippines, the Magreb Oases in Algeria and the Upland pastures that cross the borders of Kenya and Tanzania.