Shizuoka Prefecture (county) has always been famous for growing green tea. In modern times, many agricultural areas in Japan have lost their biodiversity due to the use of mono crops, by degrading the nutrient level of the soil, and by destroying the environment. In Shizuoka, tea agriculture uses age old traditional methods of mulching between the tea rows after the picking season is over. A wide range of grasses, found near the tea farms, are cut and spread by hand between the tea rows.
Referred to in Japanese as Kusaba farming, in 2013, this type of agriculture was certified as a “World Agricultural Heritage”. This unique certification is provided by GIAHS (Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN). There are only 25 such certifications worldwide. Other examples are: Andes Agriculture (Peru), Ifugao Rice Terraces (Philippines), Masai Traditional (Tanzania, Kenya), Saffron Agriculture (India) and Paddy fish culture (China).
A type of agriculture can only be certified as a “World Agricultural Heritage” if a centuries old type of agricultural method is combined with distinct cultural influences of the country which create sustainable, environmental friendly results.