Author: Steve Zwick
Modern farming methods churn up soil and release carbon into the air, where it contributes to climate change. Ultra-modern methods conserve topsoil and increase production, trapping small amounts of carbon in the earth and plants. The Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project aims to leverage that little bit of carbon to spark an agriculture revolution.
Original article in Ecosystem Marketplace here
NAIROBI | 21 January 2014 | The Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project (KACP) last week became the first organization to earn carbon credits under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) for locking carbon in soil. The credits represent a reduction of 24,788 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to emissions from 5,164 vehicles in a year. These are the first credits worldwide issued under the sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) carbon accounting methodology.
The program, which Ecosystem Marketplace profiled in 2011, works by promoting sustainable or “climate-safe” agriculture that has also proven to increase yields in some cases. The KACP involves 60,000 farmers on 45,000 hectares.
Results so far show that SALM can help increase farmers’ yields by up to 15-20%, the World Bank says. These productivity gains come from greater soil fertility and help counteract the effects of increasingly extreme weather conditions. By sequestering more carbon in the soil, SALM also helps mitigate climate change.
“This project demonstrates synergies between climate-change adaptation and mitigation strategies in agriculture,” says Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “Carbon credits are creating a revenue stream that enhances the extension services provided to farmers, which are critical to the adoption of these practices and also adds to farmers’ income beyond their increased crop yields. This also improves their food security, which is now more important than ever given the vulnerability to climate change.”
KACP forms an important part of the World Bank’s efforts to extend climate finance to incentivize better land management. The Swedish NGO Vi Agroforestry is responsible for implementation in Kenya, supported by the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund and its participants – the French Development Agency and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. The Fund will purchase a part of the carbon credits generated by the project by 2017, estimated at $600,000.
“As an organization, Vi Agroforestry focuses on the benefits of improved living conditions for small-scale farmers thanks to increased yields arising from improved cultivation techniques,” says Arne Andersson, Regional Director, Vi Agroforestry. “The SALM methodology proves to be very successful in achieving this.”
The BioCarbon Fund’s SALM methodology received VCS approval in December 2011. The methodology spells out how carbon sequestration in soils are measured and engages farmers themselves in the monitoring process; for the first time they are measuring the impact of their agricultural practices on crop yields.
“This proves, yet again, that good environmental practices make good business practices, and in this case they are making for good farming practices which have tremendous ancillary benefits”, said David Antonioli, VCS Chief Executive Officer. “The exciting results in Kenya show how strategic investment by development organizations like the World Bank can truly benefit farmers in the developing world by helping them harness the power of the international carbon market.”