Carbon farming in the global south


Ashiraf Migade is doing an internship at Agriterra about carbon farming and carbon credits. Read his blog below. 

Agriculture and farming is a widely known concept, but carbon farming and carbon credits are not familiar terms to many (not leaving myself out) a few months ago before undertaking interest in this Agriterra commissioned research, a specialist Dutch International Agri-Agency on business development of cooperatives and farmers’ organisations in developing and emerging economies. As I embarked on a journey to investigate how I can combine my business knowledge and experiences with sustainable agricultural value chains and business models in developing countries, my path crossed with Agriterra’s at the best and right time in my career and professional development.

In this journey, I come to realise that the wider the gap that exists between knowledge and practise, the unlucky we continue to be. Most scientists continue to grow in terms of research and number of publications about the soil and environment yet the world has not become any better but worse in terms of climate change and soil degradation. The need for practitioners such as pragmatic individuals and entities is still enormous due to the intricasies involved around implementing some of the great discoveries and scholarly recommendations to make the world a better place. In light of this, I commend the works of entities that influenced the United Nations’ 1997 Kyoto Protocol that was a historic turning point in the making member countries aware of the adverse climate change threat and effects while committing them to reduce their emissions. No forgetting the role played by its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in promoting emission reductions in the global south. Fundamentally, it goes without mentioning that the United Nations’ 2015 Paris Agreement transformed the way in which countries approach, climate change mitigation and adaptation actions in both their Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

When we mention Agriculture Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector projects, most of the times we feel the A – Agriculture is fully represented which is not a fact. Through initiatives like the KACP, farmers have been compensated for the carbon farming they adopt on their agricultural lands. But other initiatives and projects are currectly being developed and implemented in AFOLU sector are forestry based whose interventions are mainly advocating for planting trees under the CDM’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). As many other carbon projects continue to spur in the energy sector like biogass, cookstoves, water and others, countries in the global south such as Uganda whose economy largely relies on Agriculture continue to struggle to deliver their 2015 Paris Agreement Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) commitments amidst different challenges yet agricultural soils which contribute largely to the Greenhouse Gas emissions and have the potential to sequester most of the CO2 emissions are seemingly not prioritised much.  

With the deteriorating living conditions for these agricultural dependent households in such countries owing to the declining productivity, quality and quantity of agricultural land resources KACP results from the initiative, present a promising outlook for small holder farmers and their cooperatives gain a spot within their farming businesses to sequester more CO2 . However, connecting carbon farmers in the global south to carbon markets requires an analysis of what friendly methodologies under the different matching standards. Unfortunately, there are no CDM carbon farming methodologies and the only carbon farming fit SALM methodology has only had two registered projects. The limited uptake of such a carbon farming applicable methodology poses a lot of questions as whether these farmers really have a spot. Could this mean that compliance schemes are not concerned about agriculture and farmers’ or the voluntary carbon credits buyers are not interested in such? Could the complexity and costs involved around developing soil carbon sequestration projects, validation, registration and monitoring be a predicarment? Is it because CO2 sequestration outcomes in the soil are not physically seen to be promoted enough?

Well, whatever the answers to these questions are, the fact remains that the adverse effects and threat of climate change to Agriculture is so real to be ignored. Consquently, as a way of designing scaling interventions in the global south by Agriterra, a clear understanding is needed regarding what carbon farming practices reduce Carbon (C) emissions with particular inclination in the no regret options, their economic and ecological effects, trade-offs and how farmers in cooperatives can benefit from the carbon credit schemes without having to worry about their livelihoods. This outstanding need to investigate how farmers in cooperatives who feed the world can gain a spot  through Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs and see how credit schemes can support the cooperatives in developing more climate smart value chains and business models is the basis for our exploration.
Keeping you posted soon about the outcomes.

Ashiraf Migadde

Ashiraf is a Research Associate at Agriterra and a Graduate Student at the Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences pursuing a MSc. Agriculture Production Chain Management majoring in Horticulture Value Chains based in the Netherlands. He is an Orange Knowledge Program Fellow, Enable Youth Program Fellow, Alumni of Makerere University Business School, Entreprenuer and Co-founder of Agynet Agribusiness and Hakuna Maskini Youth Network in Uganda.
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