Kenya farmers premier in earning carbon credits

A climate change body representing over 60,000 farmers who are on 45,000 hectares has become the first of its kind to earn carbon credit for locking carbon on soil and assisting farmers increasing yields by upto 20 percent for farming ‘smart.’

The Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project (KACP) earned carbon credits under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) with the credits representing 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. Majority of the farmers are from Western Kenya.

According to the results SALM has proven to not only lock carbon in the soil but also increase yields by between 15 and 20 percent according to the World Bank. 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.”