Minabe-Tanabe Ume system have been designated by FAO as GIAHS
Minabe-Tanabe Ume system designated GIAHS(Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems) for innovation, sustainability and adaptability.
About Minabe-Tanabe Ume system
As both food and medicine, ume [Prunus mume, Japanese apricot] have been a highly valued crop in Japan from about 1300 years ago. Pickled ume, called umeboshi, keep well and have excellent medicinal effects including food poisoning prevention and recovery from fatigue, and have been consumed on a daily basis as a Japanese side dish.
The Minabe-Tanabe ume system is a unique system which has sustainably produced
high-quality ume by making use of slopes with rudaceous soil, which is poor in nutrients.
The production of ume in this region comes to about 44,000 t annually (2012), accounting for about 50% of Japan’s total production. Yield per unit area is high, at about 1.5 t per 10 a, which is about twice that of Japan’s other ume-producing districts.
The steeply inclined mountainous parts of this site with their rudaceous soils could not be used for the usual kinds of agriculture and forestry. Therefore, to make a living, about 400 years ago people started cultivating ume, which can be produced even under these conditions. They have also maintained mixed forests as coppice forests. By maintaining coppice forests near ume orchards and along the ridges of steep slopes, people have endowed them with functions including watershed conservation, nutrient replenishment, and slope collapse prevention. In this way, they have sustained ume production. Allowing grass to grow in ume orchards prevents soil drying and erosion, and the mowed grass is returned to the soil to fertilize the ume.
Honeybees that live in the coppice forests help pollinate the ume trees, and the ume aid
honeybee propagation in the early spring, when few flowers are blooming, by providing them with valuable nectar.
While sustaining and expanding ume cultivation, people have continually improved ume,
nurtured diverse genetic resources, and created outstanding varieties that are adapted to this site, of which the Nanko variety is representative. People have refined techniques for ume processing as well as production, developing worry-free and safe processed foods that meet modern needs, such as flavored umeboshi with reduced salt, health foods that use ume ingredients, and other healthful applications.
At the same time, people created a prime grade of charcoal called Kishubinchotan charcoal by using tree species such as Quercus phillyraeoides from their coppice forests, and devised a selective-cutting method of coppice forest management, not found in other places, which can regenerate the trees quickly.
The coppice forests and ume orchards that expanded in this manner formed a unique and beautiful landscape. The flow of water from coppice forests to ume orchards to rice paddies and fields has maintained a habitat for a large and diverse variety of flora and fauna, and has enabled the cultivation of ume and many other agricultural crops. The nature-friendly production activities of this district have protected people’s livelihoods, while making their lives spiritually gratifying and nurturing local bonds and culture. An ume offering festival based on an old story and which thanks the spirits for the harvest, a traditional culinary culture which uses ume, and other features constitute an ume culture that is unique to this site and valuable to the world as well.
The accumulated efforts of people to carefully use the limited resources of the locality
established a sustainable agricultural system based primarily on ume, and have now created an ume industry said to be worth about ¥70 billion through the coordination of diverse sectors such as production, processing, distribution, and tourism, thus bringing stable local employment.
Sustainable agriculture and livelihoods are considered important in the world. The agricultural system of this site is a model that embodies them.
- For efforts to GIAHS designation (Minabe-Tanabe Regional Association for GIAHS Promotion)
- Wakayama Prefecture presentation
What are GIAHS?
GIAHS(Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems), in 2002, food stable international organization “United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, “which aims to ensure (FAO, Headquarters: Rome, Italy) is a project that was founded by.
In the background, excessive productivity overemphasis seen in modernagriculture, environmental issues and biodiversity in many parts of the world, it will include things that have been lost, such as a unique culture and landscape in the area.
The difference between the UNESCO World Heritage (cultural heritage)
While the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims to designate and protect real estates such as historic monuments and buildings and natural areas, the purpose of GIAHS is to seek maintenance and conservation of agricultural systems to pass them to future generations, through the granting of special designation.
What there will be a benefit if it is designated to the world agricultural heritage?
Increases the momentum of the region related to the maintenance and inheritance of agriculture, forestry and fisheries and traditional culture, we can expect that the maintenance of the system progresses.
Name recognition in Japan and abroad will increase. By utilizing this, I thought to be effective in promoting tourism and agriculture promotion.
You can expect that born the idea of a new business or occupation that utilize local resources by local residents.
The important thing is, I believe thing people of the region to take advantage of the initiative in GIAHS.