Payment schemes for carbon credits – a way to improve farmer livelihoods by promoting agroforestry
In a new book about payments for ecosystem services, recently published by the World Agroforestry Centre, different payment schemes that reward farmers investing in sustainable agriculture are reviewed. Climate mitigation is one of many ecosystem services that farmers can provide by increasing carbon storage in soil and biomass. An effective tool for this is Sustainable Agricultural Land Management (SALM), including e.g. agroforestry, mulching and rainwater harvesting. When the soil carbon content increases the soil health is improved along with agricultural productivity. Agroforestry and other SALM-practises also adapt smallholder farms to climate change by improving the resilience to extreme weather and diversifying the production.
Kenya Agriculture Carbon Project (KACP), implemented by Vi Agroforestry, is presented and reviewed in the book together with general conclusions about the potential of using the carbon market to promote sustainable agriculture. KACP was the first carbon project in Africa addressing both adaption and mitigation of climate change. It started in western Kenya in 2009 and is implemented with an ambitious programme providing agricultural extension services to smallholder farmers. The generated carbon credits are certified by Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and partly sold through the World Bank’s Bio-Carbon fund. Sixty percent of the revenues are returned to the farmers and 40% are used to fund the programme. The review of KACP concludes that the main benefit for farmers implementing SALM-practises is improved productivity, but that sales of carbon credits provide an important additional income.
KACP is unique as it measures and sells stored soil carbon and acknowledges the role of smallholder farmers living in poverty in global climate change mitigation. The sustainability of the project is ensured by the improvement of livelihoods of these farmers as they see their yields increase when implementing SALM-practises. Maize yields have increased during the programme with 30-50% along with farmer savings that can be used for investments or in times of hardship.
The book: Co-investment in ecosystem services: global lessons from payment and incentive schemes can be found on the website of the World Agroforestry Centre. In Chapter 7: Who enjoys smallholder-generated carbon benefits? the case study about KACP can be read.
Öborn, I., Wekesa, A., Natongo, P., Kiguli, L., Wachiye, E., Musee, C., Kuyah, S. & Neves, B. 2017. Who enjoys smallholder-generated carbon benefits? In: Namirembe, S., Leimona, B., van Noordwijk, M. & Minang, P (eds.) Co-investment in ecosystem services: global lessons from payment and incentive schemes.