A Complete Guide on [GIAHS in India]

GIAHS in India


In 2020, 41.49% of the Indian workforce is engaged in agriculture. Agriculture in India is just not a livelihood but a connection with our motherland.


This article talks about the recognized agricultural sites which hold global importance in today’s time when the world is going through an environmental crisis and an alarming rate of deterioration of natural resources. 


So today we will discuss GIAHS in India. ✌✌✌


At this time these agricultural systems all over the world bring hope in these dark times, a hope for a future with food for all which is affordable and accessible. 


Full form of GIAHS

Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Sites.


GIAHS site in India

There are three regions in India:

  1. Kuttanad below sea level Farming System (Kerala)
  2. Koratpur Traditional Agriculture (Odisha)
  3. Saffron heritage of Kashmir??




1) Who designates GIAHS?



2) What is GIAHS?

It is a program by UN FAO founded as a UN partnership program.


3) When was it founded?

It was founded in 2002.


4) What is GIAHS?

It is a living, evolving system of human communities in an intricate relationship with their territory, cultural or agricultural landscape, or biophysical and wider social environment.


5) The aim behind designations?


It aims to further the goal of sustainable development. It helps to identify and designated remarkable agriculture systems in the world.


6) What are the major goals?


It works towards launching a process of dynamic conservation for the maintenance of unique and culturally rich agro-environments, a source of ecologically relevant traditional agricultural systems, and technologies that have proven to be resilient and sustainable through the centuries.


7) How many sites all around the world?



8) What are the need and importance?


It is the leading way for a system to identify, support, and safeguard agricultural systems. Systems that are sustained and conserve our biodiversity and genetic resources for food and agriculture, rural livelihoods, knowledge systems, cultures, and remarkable landscapes.


GAIHS in India



Koraput Traditional Agriculture


Koraput is situated in the Western Ghat region of Odisha. The region was once poverty-stricken with about 79% tribal population when Chennai-based MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) came to their rescue.


 MSSRF proposed a system that was pro-poor, pro-nature, development, and women-centric. The region is endowed with great genetic variety even medicinal plants.


The tribal people are encouraged to use their traditional knowledge and practices to advance their agriculture output. 


They shifted from chemical to natural pesticides and fertilizers by using neem and cow dung. They even used their knowledge to test the viability of seed even before sowing. 


The knowledge has been shifted from one generation to another making it hereditary and giving it cultural values. ???


Agro-biological diversity consists following:

  • Over 200 medicinal plants (bone fracture, malaria, gastroenteritis)
  • 2500 species of flowering plants, gymnosperms, and ferns
  • 340 landraces of paddy 
  • 8 species of minor millet
  • 9 species of pulses
  • 5 species of oilseeds
  • 3 species of fibrous plants
  • 7 species of vegetables
  • 79 angiosperms and 1 gymnosperm species  are endemic to state

Region of Jeypore: This region has a high variety of rice and has been working to conserve its biological heritage. The tribes in the region also have sacred groves which are biological heritage and have led to patches of forest being protected. These groves are worshipped as deities. ??


MSSRF is even trying to help the farmers gain patents for their work. The foundation is also working towards establishing a heritage park.


World Tea Day


It is observed on 21st May, according to United Nations. The resolution was adopted on December 21, 2019. The history of the day though dates back to 2005 when it was first celebrated in Delhi. ???


The Indian government in 2015 proposed expanding the observance of the day through the FOA Intergovernmental Group of Tea.


The day is to raise awareness about the long history and deep culture and economic significance of tea around the world. It aims to promote and foster the idea of sustainability in tea production. 


It also voices the concerns of tea trade workers and growers. It calls out for fair trade and price supports to prosper the tea industry. The tea industry in 2020 had a volume of 6.71 million tons ad is expected to grow to 7.89 million tons by 2026. 


Tea statistics: 


1) China: 2,400,000 metric tons 

2) India: 900,000 metric tons ???

3) Kenya: 305,000metric tons.


Indian states (2019)

1) Assam: 702 million kilograms

2) West Bengal: 395 million kilograms


Paddy Cultivation

  • This can also be called rice cultivation. Paddy is rice with husk and henceforth it derives it’ name from the Malay word padi which means “rice in the straw or husk”. Thus, what we can say is rice is the seed of paddy. 
  • Paddy fields are different from our normal fields because these are flooded fields of arable land.  The technique traces its origin from the Neolithic rice-farming cultures of the Yangtze River basin in southern China. ???
  • This is labor, water, and material extensive. It is practiced all over South East Asia dominantly for rice production.  
  • India has the largest paddy output and is the largest rice exporter in the world in 2020. In India, West Bengal is the largest rice-producing state. 
  • Paddy is grown twice in India in both Rabi (irrigation dependent) and Kharif (monsoon dependent) seasons. 
  • Kavari Delta of Thanjavur region, Kuttanadu, and Gabgavathi are called rice bowls of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka respectively.


Floating Garden in India

  • Floating gardens are artificial islands constructed on freshwater lakes to increase areas under agriculture. 
  • They find their origin in the Aztec Empire of Spain. These gardens were first seen in Mexico. It can be made on rafts or boats themselves. 
  • In India, floating gardens can be found in Dal Lake, coastal regions of Odisha, Loktak Lake in Manipur, and in some regions of West Bengal.
  • India even houses the only floating national park in the world: Keibul Lamjao National park (wetland ecosystem) in Loktak Lake in Manipur. 
  • These gardens in Bangladesh have been designated as GIAH sites. 


Traditional Agriculture in India

  • Traditional Agriculture means the practices that have been in practice for years. It includes farming done by using resources at hand and what nature has to offer. ???
  • Like replacing chemical fertilizer with manure and compost, using traditional knowledge and practices like that of selecting good seeds, using indigenous tools rather than big machines and mechanized tools, water harvesting, and using cattle for tilling rather than tractors. 
  • These can not only be environmentally sustainable but also food security. Modern practices have not only burdened the natural resources but also deteriorated them. 
  •  India still practices traditional agriculture like shifting agriculture or jhum or slash and burn technique, double cropping, mixed or intercropping, crop rotation, poly agriculture, and agroforestry.
  • These systems complement the process by supplying nutrients needed for other plants grown with or after it, try to imitate nature, and even develop microclimate to shield against extremes. 
  • The traditional practice includes leaving the stubs of plants in the ground which later can provide manure, help preserve the capacity of soil; using neem, salt spray, onion and garlic spray, and camphor. 
  • Organic farming is also the type of traditional agriculture that now has been promoted worldwide as a step towards sustainable agriculture and food for all. 
  • It has a high level of biodiversity with environmental practices that preserve natural resources and takes rigorous steps towards animal welfare.
  •  It aims to produce food by establishing an ecological balance to prevent soil fertility or pest problems. The Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is the method of chemical-free farming drawing inspiration from traditional practices. 
  • This method tends to improve the potential of crops to adapt to and be produced for evolving climate conditions as uses 10% of water and electricity. 


Below Sea Level Farming

  • The only place in India practicing rice cultivation below sea level is Kuttanad in Kerala, near Vembanad Lake. It is also called Bio saline farming. 
  • The major land-use structures are flat stretches of rice fields in about 50,000 hectares of delta swamps. 
  • The farming is done 1.2 to 3 meters below sea level. The system can help the world with food security in times of an environmental crisis with increasing seawater levels, global warming, coastal storms, and weather or climate extremes.
  • The area is supported by 4 monsoons fed rivers bringing freshwater, fertile silt, and flooding. Farmers traditionally cultivated saline-tolerant rice varieties like this and bred fish on the same plot, together or alternately in two seasons per year. 
  • Alongside, they can coconut on the dykes, comprising their staple foods. Fish fed off the rotting rice-harvest residue while the rice was fertilized by fish excrement, making added nutrients unnecessary.




The article gave readers a look into the GIAHS in India. These agricultural systems are what will lead way for sustainable agriculture and food security.


They could prospectively help to converge the traditional practices with sustainable discoveries of modern time. 


What we can create are the techniques that will help humanity when humans will fail to help themselves. What we can comprehend are methods that will feed our future generations when things may seem out of hand. 


What we can find our methods to salvage what is left and what can be still protected and nurtured.  


Initiatives like GIAHS are what are highlighting the best from our past and the sustainable from our present and paving the way to our future for our future generation.  


They highlight how important in situ conservation is and how our needs can be sustainable even while protecting the healing mother Earth. After all, we have a long future ahead of us and an even longer one to prepare for.   


This is an important topic related to UPSC and State services exams. many times questions have been asked about it in BPSC, UPPSC, and MPPSC exams. It sheds knowledge about Indian geography and agriculture.


List of Rivers in India

Leave a Comment