3 sites in China recognized as agricultural heritage

Farmers pick Tieguanyin tea leaves on a hill in Anxi, Fujian Province, which has been recognized by the UN as an agricultural heritage site. Tieguanyin tea belongs to the semi-fermented Oolong tea variety, a category between green tea and black tea. Photo provided to CHINA DAILY

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recently recognized three sites in China as agricultural heritage systems of global significance, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced on Tuesday.

The three sites are an ancient tea-growing area in Anxi County in Fujian Province, a nomadic cattle-raising area in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and a stone terraced rain-fed agriculture system in Shexian County in Hebei Province.

To date, 18 sites in China have been added to FAO’s list of global agricultural heritage systems. The network now consists of 65 systems in 22 countries around the world, with China being the largest contributor to the list.

The three sites were nominated during an online assessment in Rome last week. They have been recognized for their use of traditional practices, knowledge and maintenance of biodiversity and the ecosystem, the FAO said.

The Anxi Tieguanyin tea producing area is located in southeast Fujian. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), tea produced in Anxi was exported through the maritime Silk Road, a commercial and cultural communication passage between ancient China and the world. said the ministry.

Tieguanyin, the most famous tea variety in Anxi, started its production between 1725 and 1735. It belongs to the semi-fermented Oolong tea variety, a category between green tea and black tea.

The system has important ecological functions such as soil and water conservation and microclimate regulation, according to the ministry.

Local farmers know how to manage the natural environment to ensure the best tea growing conditions and produce high quality tea leaves. These legacies have ensured the long-term stability and sustainability of the ecological systems of its tea estates and have embedded the product into the identity of local communities, the FAO said.

Located in Chifeng in Inner Mongolia, Ar Horqin Nomadic Grassland System is the first designated nomadic agricultural heritage area in China. It is an example of global sustainable livestock and management of fragile pastures, the ministry said.

The region has a variety of ecosystems including forests, grasslands, wetlands and rivers with ecological functions. The first inhabitants hunted and lived a nomadic life in the region as early as Neolithic times several thousand years ago. Local breeders have been able to preserve its production and its traditional nomadic way of life while adapting to a changing environment.

By constantly moving their pastures, they have ensured the protection of vegetation and the rational use of water resources, bringing a steady supply of livestock products such as meat and cheese to local communities, according to the FAO.

Shexian Arid Land Stone Terrace System is located in Handan, Hebei Province. The rain-fed agricultural system dates back to the Yuan Dynasty and covers an area of ​​14,000 hectares, the ministry said.

For hundreds of years, the system has preserved traditional crop varieties and environmentally friendly farming techniques to ensure the development of agricultural production under harsh conditions in the mountains, he added. He created a landscape for the harmonious coexistence of people and nature.

Agriculture provides local people with a stable livelihood and establishes a model of sustainable agriculture in the mountainous region despite the lack of soil and rain, FAO said.

The county is well known for its Chinese nuts and peppers, as well as millet, corn, soybeans, black jujube and other agricultural products grown on the terraces, local authorities said.

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