Institutional development for agricultural heritage conservation
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Institutional Development for Agricultural Heritage Conservation. Wageningen International Frank van Schoubroeck and ArendJan van Bodegom. Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). GIAHS is an FAO initiative to Define & recognise AHS

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Institutional Development for Agricultural Heritage Conservation

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Institutional Development for Agricultural Heritage Conservation

Wageningen International

Frank van Schoubroeck and ArendJan van Bodegom

Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

  • GIAHS is an FAO initiative to

    • Define & recognise AHS

    • Contribute to “dyanamic conservation” of such systems

FAO’s definition of GIAHS:

  • Remarkable land use systems and landscapes

  • rich in biodiversity

  • [resulting from] the co-adaptation of a rural community with its environment

    In short:

    GIAHSs are socio-ecological agricultural systems

‘dynamic conservation’ is piloted in six sites, e.g.,Chiloe Islands, Chilli - potato systems

Rice terrace systems:Philippines–Ifugao; China–Rice-Fish

Maghreb Oases systems


Government Market



Institutional change




The assignment of GIAHS projects:


Case: Gafsa Oasis in Tunesia

Gafsa town & oasis are over 2,000 years old

Traditional three-level cultivation system:-Palm trees-Fruit crops-Annual crops

Threats to oasis system:Palm & fruit tree logging; annual cropping

NGO project: awareness raising about oasis system: promote multiple cropping layers

NGO Project: Niche Market Development for oasis products

Chat with Oasis farmers: why do you cut palm & fruit tree layers?

Farmers tell that most land is under absentee landowners, who employ labour for maximum 1-2 seasons

… effectiveness awareness raising & niche marketing?

Q&D Reconstruction of Land holding history Gafsa oasis

  • Traditionally: local chief system administered land holding

  • 1950s: State enforced land holding certification and undermined traditional system

  • Now: absentee landowners keep labourers “unattached”

  • State does not enforce labourer rights

  • Thus, labourers invest for short-term only, kill palm trees:

  • Thus, the oasis system disintegrates, even if under different conditions it is viable and sustainable

Tenure policy for agricultural labourers


GIAHS concept

Ministry of Trade

GIAHS Recognition

Agriculture labour legal protection

Ministry of Agriculture

State Government Institutions

Enforcement of

tenure rights

Local government

Farmers’ community

Secure land tenure for labourers



Maintenance of multi-layered crop system

Agriculture labourers

Viability of the Oasis system

What to do to address land tenure? Outcome Framework for Land Tenure Governance Mechanism:

Governance Mechanism Development Land Tenure for GIAHS

Possible Governance mechanism development for “urgent issues” in oasis conservation:

  • Water table management

  • Land conversion to buildings

  • Tourism/park development for town

  • Niche marketing of oasis products


  • Changing institutional environments undermine Agricultural Heritage Systems (– and possibly most Low External Input Agriculture)

  • Result is agri-system disintegration & loss of livelihood opportunities for large groups of of farmers

  • A possible approach is multiple actors realising governance mechanisms to address urgent issues

  • Upcoming opportunities such as tourism, niche marketing etc. are “urgent issues” for the viability of agricultural heritage systems

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