Small Holder Agriculture Monitoring and Baseline Assessment (SHAMBA)

Photo: John Hogg (World Bank)

Project Description

In order to generate income from carbon credits, smallholders need to prove that their fields are capturing carbon. The difficulty is how to measure the amount of carbon captured without incurring significant costs. With support from CCAFS, scientists at the University of Edinburgh are testing a low-cost way for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to calculate the expected climate benefits of planting trees, agroforestry, increasing organic inputs to soils and reducing the amount of crop residues burnt. By determining the climate benefits of their agricultural activities at a reasonable cost, smallholders can gain carbon credits, and thus draw additional income from climate funds.

SHAMBA is user-friendly, designed specifically for smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa to calculate carbon capture. Users with little technical expertise can use SHAMBA to estimate how changes in smallholder agricultural practices will generate climate benefits in line with greenhouse gas accounting requirements. SHAMBA calculates the expected climate benefits of tree planting, agroforestry, agricultural practices that increase organic inputs to soils and reducing burning crop residues. The scientists are working to fine tune the Smallholder Agriculture Mitigation Benefits Assessment (SHAMBA) method for calculating climate benefits.


Tests in Mexico, Mozambique and Uganda are experimenting with SHAMBA works. If successful, then Plan Vivo Foundation will put SHAMBA into practice in its projects. Once proven, SHAMBA promises to help rural communities throughout Africa and beyond verify how much carbon their agricultural activities capture and to derive extra income from carbon credits.

If SHAMBA proves successful, the Plan Vivo Foundation will use it for projects throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Plan Vivo is a Scottish charity that provides support to communities to manage their natural resources more sustainably with a view to generating climate, livelihood and ecosystem benefits.


A full description of the tools’ parameters can be downloaded from the CCAFS website here. The tool is publicly available at and is accompanied by a tool description, user guide and methodology. The tool contains its own help. The web interface of the tool is viewable at:


The University of Edinburgh and CCAFS worked together to develop this tool, and the University of Edinburgh, Bioclimate and Plan Vivo are now working together to increase the use of this tool beyond the initial projects in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim is to estimate climate benefits from other geographical regions and land use practices, as well as reporting metrics describing impacts on resilience and yields, allowing smallholders to contribute to – and benefit from – low-emissions development.