• This is the second agricultural system in Mexico to receive the recognition from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
  • Also known as Ich Kool, the Peninsular Maya Milpa is a complex biocultural production system in southeastern Mexico.
  • The recognition comes after seven years of efforts by individuals involved in the Ich Kool system and the state governments of the region.

The Mayan milpa of the Yucatan peninsula, or "Ich Kool," was recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS).

At FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu delivered the certificate. This is the second Mexican agricultural system to gain recognition as a GIAHS, the first being the Chinampas Agricultural System in Mexico City (2017).

Ambassador Miguel García Winder, Mexico’s Permanent Representative to the UN Agencies based in Rome, took part in the high-level segment of the ceremony recognizing the new GIAHS.

In his remarks, Amb. García stressed the importance of the GIAHS initiative over the last 21 years. It has made it possible to rescue and promote the ancestral and historical legacy of traditional agricultural systems and their importance for a transition to sustainable food systems.

He said that the Peninsular Maya Milpa or Ich Kool is a complex biocultural production system developed in the states of Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo, which has evolved over time to maintain the delicate balance that exists between biodiversity, climate, natural resources and the needs of the producers, their families and communities.

He explained that this system is not only used as a strategy for self-sufficiency and family survival, but that it also represents the identity, history, traditions and cosmovisions of an entire culture, while providing environmental services to the communities and society in general: from conserving plant species to their coexistence with highly biodiverse ecosystems.

He commended the daily work of those who tend the Peninsula Mayan Milpa, as they are the ones who give life to this agricultural system that is now formally recognized as agricultural heritage of humanity.

After discussing Mexico's history and contributions to agriculture and food, Ambassador Miguel García pledged to publicize the GIAHS concept in Mexico, and to identify additional traditional Mexican agricultural systems that could be considered as part of the world's agricultural heritage.

Recognition of the Mayan Milpa of the Yucatan Peninsula as part of the world’s agricultural heritage is the result of the long efforts of government agencies at various levels of government, experts, academics and, mainly, of the milpa workers, who over the course of seven years did extensive and meticulous work to achieve this recognition.

FAO grants GIAHS recognition to agricultural systems around the world based on a rigorous process that considers the following criteria:

  • They must contribute to the food and livelihood security of local communities.
  • They must illustrate diverse uses of biological diversity in the territory in question.
  • They must be based on the traditional knowledge of local communities and maintain the integrity of the agricultural system and the landscape.
  • The systems must be regulated by strong cultural values and based on collective forms of social organization.
  • They must result in outstanding landscapes and land and water resource management characteristics.

To date, FAO has recognized 74 sites in 24 countries as GIAHS.