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Kundhavi Kadiresan of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has made her first visit to Japan to promote Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems, an award by the organization aimed at boosting eco-tourism and preserving traditional agricultural systems.

“People always want to connect with their own tradition and old heritage systems,” said Kadiresan, adding that more countries and people are showing interest in GIAHS to attract tourists.

The Nagara River in Gifu Prefecture was granted the heritage status in December 2015 because many traditional types of inland fishing have been preserved there, including cormorant fishing that dates back 1,300 years.

On Sunday, Kadiresan attended the opening ceremony for an inland fishery training center built near the Kiso River, also in Gifu Prefecture.

The facility represents an effort by the prefecture to contribute to the international community by educating trainees from developing countries on fishery techniques.

Ten trainees from countries in northern Africa are receiving training there until Wednesday on Japanese fish farming techniques.

Gifu prefectural spokesman Eiji Iwamoto said another set of trainees is scheduled to arrive in October.

“FAO has been collaborating closely with Gifu Prefecture,” said Kadiresan. “Since we have that collaboration, we really want to support that, and also want to use the experience of this particular training center to educate and create understanding in other countries.”

Established in 1945, the FAO is the lead United Nations agency for defeating hunger.

The FAO launched the GIAHS project in 2002. It had 36 locations worldwide registered as of January, including eight in Japan, such as the traditional tea-grass integrated system in Kakegawa, Shizuoka Prefecture.

It awards outstanding agricultural systems maintained by generations of farmers and herders who use locally adapted management practices.

“Whenever we move forward and adopt new or modern things, we should not forget about the tradition,” Kadiresan said.

Traditional methods of agriculture are important not in economic value but from an environmental and cultural heritage standpoint, she said, adding that GIAHS not only attracts tourists but can help pass on valuable techniques to future generations in various regions worldwide.

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