New study finds African carbon projects can help poor farmers

CCAFS Report 8: Institutional innovations in African smallholder carbon projectsClimate funds for reducing greenhouse gas emissions can benefit small farmers and help achieve development objectives, according to a new report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and EcoAgriculture Partners.

In a detailed study of six African agricultural carbon projects, researchers found that communities are benefiting from a range of activities related to planting and managing trees on farms. The carbon projects include the Humbo Ethiopia Assisted Natural Regeneration Project, coordinated by World Vision, which was the first African forestry project to be registered under the Kyoto Protocol, and the Cocoa Carbon Initiative in Ghana, which is working to improve tree cover while enhancing sustainability of cocoa production, which many farmers rely on for income.

Researchers found that while direct carbon payments to farmers were low, projects successfully established systems for financial management, agricultural extension, and carbon monitoring involving a complex set of partnerships. They established institutional relationships with farmers through small farmers’ groups and clusters, which enables broad participation, efficient contracting, timely communication, provision of extension services, benefit-sharing, and gender-focused activities.

The study demonstrates the different channels through which communities could benefit from mitigation funds for agricultural development.


CCAFS Report 8: Institutional innovations in African smallholder carbon projects (PDF) by Seth Shames, Eva Wollenberg, Louise E. Buck, Patti Kristjanson, Moses Masiga and Byamukama Biryahwaho

Related Case studies

This study is based on six African agricultural carbon project case studies, which can be downloaded at the links below.

Sustaining Agriculture through Climate Change (SACC): CARE International Case study. Seth Shames (EcoAgriculture Partners) with Geoffrey Onyango (CARE International). Available at:

Cocoa Carbon Initiative. By Winston Asante, Eunice Anim, and Rebecca Asare,Cocoa Carbon Initiative. Available at:

Trees for Global Benefit Program: Environmental Conservation Trust (ECOTRUST) of Uganda. Moses Masiga (ENR Africa Associates) with Polycarp Mwima and Lillian Kiguli (ECOTRUST Uganda). Available at:

Humbo Ethiopia Assisted Natural Regeneration Project. By Byamukama Biryahwaho (Nature Harness Initiatives) and Michael Misiko (CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security) with Hailu Tefera and Assefa Tofu (World Vision Ethiopia). Available at:

The International Small Group Tree Planting Program (TIST) Kenya. Moses Masiga (Ecoagriculture Partners) with Christine Yankel and Charles Iberre (TIST). Available at:

Western Kenya Smallholder Agriculture Carbon Finance Project: Vi Agroforestry. Seth Shames (EcoAgriculture Partners) with Amos Wekesa and Emmanuel Wachiye (Vi Agroforestry). Available at:

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