Staff Reporter

Other three sites are in Peru, China and Philippines

BHUBANESWAR: After the famous sun temple of Konark and biodiversity hotspot of Similipal have catapulted Orissa to world’s heritage map, Koraput region has started evoking similar feelings among agriculturists, conservationists and agronomists for its unique blend of biodiversity with cultural wisdom.

Koraput has been identified by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as the global agricultural heritage site, which has been a rare distinction as there are only four agricultural heritage sites in whole world. Others are in Peru, China and Philippines. No other site from India has so far been qualified into the category.

Now about applications for 20 sites from different parts of the globe are pending with FAO which is reviewing their agricultural biodiversity.

“Koraput will soon be recognized as globally important agriculture heritage site. It will be on the lines of world heritage sites declared by UNESCO,” said renowned scientist and father of green revolution M. S. Swaminathan addressing consultation on “Effective community management of biodiversity in an era of climate change” here on Saturday.

Executive Director of M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) Ajay Parida said, “after Koraput’s inclusion in globally important agricultural heritage system, its every biological aspects would be studied in detail and crop varieties would be documented thoroughly.”

He said more than 70 per cent of the total population of Koraput belonged to 52 ethnic groups such as Khond, Bhatada, Paroja, Bhumia and Bondas. As per the MSSRF’s research, rice is predominant crop in the Jeypore area – both in terms of the land as well as in terms of production. More than 40 per cent of the land is under paddy cultivation.

Koraput region has rich assembly of unique floral and faunal diversity. The genetic repository of the region is of great significance in the global context. The region is a reservoir of rich floristic diversity consisting of about 2500 species of flowering plants, angiosperms, well known gymnosperms and 30 species of ferns.

The Jeypore tract (undivided Koraput district) is conceived by rice researches as centre of genetic diversity and secondary center of origin of rice.

Mr. Swaminathan said the recognition would encourage them to carry forward the rich agricultural practices.

“The Kalajeera, a lowland scented rice variety, has been conserved by tribal community for years. Now it has become Kalinga Kalajeera,” he said.