BHUBANESWAR: United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has recognised the efforts of the tribal community of Koraput to conserve biodiversity and develop climate resilient farm practices as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS).
The recognition of the Koraput traditional agricultural system as a GIAHS site is expected to guarantee local and international efforts for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of its genetic resources.
GIAHS is defined as a remarkable land use systems and landscapes which are rich in globally significant biological diversity evolving from the co-adaptation of a community with its environment and its needs and aspirations for sustainable development.
Mentioning this at the inauguration of the 99th Indian Science Congress here, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lauded the Koraput tribals for the achievement.
The Koraput region is famous for its rich agricultural biodiversity of global importance. The agro-biodiversity recorded in the Koraput region includes, 340 landraces of paddy, eight species of minor millets, nine species of pulses, five species of oilseeds, three species of fibrous plants and seven species of vegetables.
The Jeypore region is rich in genetic resources of medicinal plants. More than 1,200 medicinal plant species are available there. Some of the endemic plant species of the region are used for curing different diseases including gastrointestinal disorders, malaria and bone fracture.
The tribal groups have rich traditional knowledge about forest species too. It is also seen as the recognition of tribal people’s contribution to biodiversity and knowledge systems, whilst increasing attention to their natural and cultural heritage.
The genetic diversity of Asian cultivated rice has been considered as the centre of origin of aus ecotype of rice. The landraces or traditional varieties growing here are thought to be harbouring dominant genes for biotic and abiotic stresses, aroma and palatability, and hold promise for their utilisation in future plant breeding and biotechnology programmes, an FAO official said.
The tribal and rural families of this area have been developing and conserving these genetic resources from time immemorial with their traditional knowledge. Today’s landraces, evolved naturally with the changing environment and agricultural practices, are the products of careful and continuous selection by tribal women and men, whose merits have not yet received the recognition they deserve, he said.