Innovative business solution for soil restoration wins USD 15,000 prize from CCAFS

Duncan Gromko accepting the award at the conference from Deissy Martinez-Baron (CCAFS Latin America). Photo: Ryan Sebastian (AVB Media Asia)
At the 5th Global Science Conference for Climate-Smart Agriculture, CCAFS awarded an innovative idea on soil carbon sequestration with funding for a South-South exchange.

South-South collaboration enables peers from similar circumstances to share solutions for tackling climate change in agriculture. These efforts can help to inform and drive the large-scale transformation of agriculture needed to address climate change.

At the 5th Global Science Conference for Climate-Smart Agriculture, CCAFS held a competition to identify innovations in soil carbon sequestration for adaptation and mitigation. About twenty applications were received and five selected to pitch their ideas at the conference. The audience and an expert panel then voted on their favorite candidate.

Each candidate’s pitch was evaluated on whether their project helped to scale up climate change adaptation and mitigation; whether there was a large demand or need for this practice elsewhere in the Global South; whether mechanisms for exchange were feasible and target groups for exchange identified; and whether there was an explicit potential for getting a concrete development outcome out of the South-South collaboration.

And now for the winner of the @global_csa South-South Collaboration $15k competition for innovative ideas on #soil and biomass carbon sequestration options in #agriculture w/ potential to scale, hosted by @CGIARclimate @CIFOR @CIAT_ and @uvmvermont. Congrats to @DGromko!

— CSA Global Science Conference 2019 (@global_csa) October 10, 2019

Cross-country learning on soil restoration techniques

Duncan Gromko, climate-smart land use investment expert at UNIQUE forestry and land use GmbH, won the USD 15,000 prize on behalf of KOFAR Kenya Limited for their business solutions for soil restoration. KOFAR is a for-profit company producing an organic fertilizer produced with local inputs, an enzyme formula, and a soil conditioner. UNIQUE is a partner of KOFAR and has been supporting their business development.

The prize will cover a South-South exchange to share the success of KOFAR and to promote learning between KOFAR and organizations in Paraguay, India, and possibly Morocco. UNIQUE and KOFAR will host two webinars to promote knowledge and technology transfer on soil restoration techniques amongst the partners. This could include differences between organic and synthetic fertilizer, different organic fertilizer technologies, business models for distributing organic fertilizer, methodologies for carbon accounting of switching from synthetic to organic fertilizer, and the potential for organic fertilizer to be used as a restoration technique across variable landscapes.


Founded in Kenya in 2015, KOFAR is majority-owned and managed by Francescah Munyi, a Kenyan who saw her mother’s coffee production declining and wanted to develop a sustainable solution. KOFAR sells organic fertilizer products to East African farmers to restore damaged soils and boost agricultural productivity using sustainable means. Through partnerships with soil scientists, Francescah developed products to help farmers like her mother. KOFAR’s sales are increasing year on year, and the company is on track to become profitable. Additionally, KOFAR provides farmers with advisory services on appropriate farming practices. Through its operations, KOFAR contributes to global objectives of climate change mitigation, land restoration, food security, and poverty reduction.

Finalists from the competition

The other four submissions that made it to the final were: 

  • Perennial grain crops in the rotation for enhancing soil carbon sequestration and sustaining crop production by Sikiru Yusuf Alasinrin, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  • Increasing crop productivity and soil carbon storage on sandy soils: No soil left behind! Ngonidzashe Chirinda, CIAT, Colombia
  • Carbon sequestering and sustainability of rice-wheat cropping system of South Asia by resource conservation technologies of climate-smart agriculture by Adnan Zahid, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
  • Improving monitoring of soil and biomass carbon sequestration using microwave remote sensing to enhance climate-smart agriculture by Stella Ndirangu, ACRE Africa, Kenya

We thank all finalists for their submissions! We’re excited about the upcoming South-South exchange that we hope will lead to wider adoption of soil carbon sequestration options.

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Lini Wollenberg is the CCAFS Low Emissions Development Flagship Leader. Lili Szilagyi is the Communications Consultant for the CCAFS Low Emissions Development Flagship.