Knowledge for better food systems

Forgotten Agricultural Heritage- Reconnecting food systems and sustainable development

Contemporary agriculture is often criticized for its industrial scale, adverse effects on nutrition, rural employment and the environment, and its disconnectedness from nature and culture. Yet there are many examples of traditional smaller scale systems that have survived the test of time and provide more sustainable solutions while still maintaining food security in an era of climate change. This book provides a unique compilation of this forgotten agricultural heritage and is based on objective scientific evaluation and evidence of the value of these systems for present and future generations.

The authors refer to many of these systems as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) and show how they are related to the concepts of heritage and the World Heritage Convention. They demonstrate how GIAHS based on family farms, traditional indigenous knowledge and agroecological principles can contribute to food and nutrition security and the maintenance of agro-biodiversity and environmental resilience, as well as sustain local cultures, economies and societies.

Two substantial chapters are devoted to descriptions and assessments of some 50 examples of designated and potential GIAHS from around the world, including rice-fish culture in China, mountain terrace systems in Asia, coffee agroforestry in Latin America, irrigation systems and land and water management in Iran and India, pastoralism in East Africa, and the dehesa agrosilvopastoral system of Spain and Portugal. The book concludes by providing policy and technical solutions for sustainable agriculture and rural development through the enhancement of these systems.

For further details see here.

Citation 

Koohafkan, P. and Altieri, M. (2016) Forgotten Agricultural Heritage: Reconnecting food systems and sustainable development. Routledge, London and New York.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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