Carbon projects can bear fruit on small farms

How can small scale farmers benefit from carbon markets? Click for more.With agriculture being a major contributor to climate change, schemes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture need to involve smallholder farmers in developing countries. Smallholder farmers in Africa are already engaging in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and boost carbon stocks, but many farmers have yet to fully benefit.

A new policy brief How can small-scale farmers benefit from carbon markets? summarises lessons from six carbon market projects in East Africa involving poor farmers, and assesses what is needed to ensure projects are more successful, equitable and sustainable. The brief is published by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and EcoAgriculture Partners, with contributions from project developers across East Africa.

Management lessons drawn from these projects include:

  • Prioritize the non-carbon benefits of improved agricultural productivity and actions that strengthen the community.
  • Cultivate strong relationships between the carbon project managers and community groups.
  • Empower local actors to manage projects.
  • Develop partnerships for scaling up.
  • Prioritize upfront financing for both projects and farmers.
  • Minimize financial risks for farmers.
  • Support conflict resolution mechanisms within farmer groups.
  • Address the gender dynamics of the project.

Key policy recommendations to support these projects include:

  • Strengthen and clarify the international incentives system for agricultural mitigation.
  • Link projects to climate adaptation and agricultural development resources.
  • Clarify tenure and carbon rights.
  • Support efficient monitoring systems to capture the full range of benefits gained from agricultural carbon projects.

Download the brief
Shames S. 2013. How can small-scale farmers benefit from carbon markets?. CCAFS Policy Brief 8. May 2013.

Download the related full report and associated case studies (released July 2012)

Shames S, Wollenberg E, Buck LE, Kristjanson P, Masiga M and Biryahwaho, B. 2012. Institutional innovations in African smallholder carbon projects. CCAFS Report 8. 

The brief was produced with contributions from: Eunice Anim, Winston Asante, Rebecca Asare, Quinn Bernier, Byamukama Biryahwaho, Louise E. Buck,  Charles Iberre, Lillian Kiguli, Patti Kristjanson, Moses Masiga, Michael Misiko, Polycarp Mwima, Geoffrey Onyango, Hailu Tefera, Assefa Tofu, Emmanuel Wachiye, Amos Wekesa, Eva Wollenberg and Christine Yankel.