Quantifying agricultural emissions

Accurate emissions estimates for different agricultural methods are needed to develop options that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving smallholder farmers’ livelihood. Emissions estimates may also increase farmers' access to climate finance and strengthen countries’ positions in global negotiations. Insufficient data on emissions for smallholder systems, particularly on nitrous oxide and enteric methane, has led to high uncertainty in actual emissions.

To fill the information gap and create a pathway for low emissions development, CCAFS is refining affordable and reliable estimation methods and building capacity to quantify greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. CCAFS supports better data, innovative estimation methods, a shared global database, and collaboration with partners to support a learning platform among national research systems and global scientists to improve baselines and mitigation planning. Refined methods generate improved baselines, emission factors and agricultural activity data for calculating region-specific emissions reductions.

Quantification activities are adapted to the needs and geographies of each region. For example, CCAFS is targeting livestock, coffee and cocoa in Latin America, and rice production systems in Southeast Asia. Data includes calculations of the biophysical and socio-economic feasibility of mitigation in intensified agricultural systems, including for women and marginalised groups. Data and learning are shared through CCAFS and the collaborative Standard Assessment of Agricultural Mitigation Potential and Livelihoods (SAMPLES) project.

SAMPLES is a global research programme that investigates the impact of smallholder agriculture on the climate. SAMPLES generates robust and comparable data on greenhouse gas emissions and livelihood indicators for smallholder farming systems. Visit the SAMPLES website, download the flyer or watch a video seminar on SAMPLES.

CCAFS facilitates capacity building with researchers across the globe, from young scientists to established research centers. (See CLIFF.) With guidance on low-cost methodologies and reliable processes, researchers are able to measure greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activities and help identify best-bet mitigation options.

Together with partners, CCAFS is supporting co-development/endorsement of standardized methods; furnishing information for an IPCC emissions factor database; and providing the information needed for national mitigation planning. Buoyed by in-country knowledge and resources, farmers, governments and the private sector can choose priority policies and implement business models that benefit farmers with increased productivity or yields, sustainable resources, and income from carbon projects.

Guidelines for monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions help governments support policies which provide climate finance for farmers to access technologies that enable adaptation to climate change and mitigation co-benefits. Read more about how CCAFS low-emissions agriculture informs decision-making and supports incentives and institutions.

​Projects Include:


Project Name

East Africa
Latin America
South Asia
  • Agro-economic analysis of all climate change mitigation options 
Southeast Asia


Further Reading: