ROMA, April 20 (Xinhua) -- "China has been the most effective country in the world so far to protect the agricultural heritage," UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Mauro Angoletti has told Xinhua.
Angoletti made the remarks during the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) international forum held in Rome on Thursday.
Angoletti, chairman of the GIAHS Scientific Advisory Group, told Xinhua that the Chinese government is one of the most powerful and generous supporters of the FAO projects and it has valuable experience to share with the world.
Thirteen new sites were formally celebrated as GIAHS sites during the forum, among them, four Chinese traditional agricultural systems. Other sites are in Egypt, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and Sri Lanka. Their primary production ranges from fruits, vegetables, salt and rice to silk, meat, tea and wasabi.
These systems "reflect a profound harmony between humanity and nature", FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo told the forum.
The new additions bring to 50 the total number of GIAHS sites worldwide and 15 of them are in China, making China the country with most GIAHS sites in the world.
Zhang Taolin, China's Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said in a keynote speech that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection and inheritance of agricultural civilization. It draws on the essence of traditional agriculture, promotes modern agriculture construction and sustainable agricultural development, and strives to ensure that the farming culture not to be lost.
"China will continue to strengthen the protection and development of heritage and promote the implementation of the strategy for rejuvenating villages," Zhang added.
Angoletti also suggested China carry out more cooperation with Italy which also has many GIAHS sites, as the cooperation can boost development and make both countries more attractive in the world.
FAO's criteria for GIAHS selection is to see whether the sites are of global importance to support food and livelihood security and biodiversity. Since 2002, the FAO has been actively engaged in recognizing such sites, and the program is now part of the core agenda of the organization to promote sustainable food systems.