Over 4,000 smallholder farmers in Embu and Tharaka-Nithi counties in Kenya will be able to earn additional income this year by planting and growing certain trees on their farms, as part of Farm Africa’s regenerative agriculture project funded by AGRA.
The Acorn project initiative, short for ‘Agroforestry CRUs for the Organic Restoration of Nature’, from the Dutch-based food and agri-bank Rabobank creates Carbon Removal Units (CRUs).
A CRU represents one tonne of carbon removed from the atmosphere. Acorn sells the CRUs to corporations that want to offset their unavoidable emissions. In this way, the Acorn initiative allows farmers to monetise the carbon stored in their trees.
When trees grow, carbon is captured from the atmosphere and stored in trees. A carbon credit is a reduction or removal of emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.
Farmers driving carbon sequestration
The Acorn initiative allows farmers to monetise the carbon stored in their trees.
By planting trees and selling carbon credits, Kenyan farmers will be financially rewarded for their contribution to mitigate climate change. They will also benefit from the trees’ impact in reducing land degradation, improving soil fertility and therefore boosting yields and improving food security.
What’s more, the Acorn initiative creates a transparent marketplace for carbon sequestration.
Farm Africa will implement the agroforestry part of the initiative in collaboration with the Embu county government, managing the practices and compliance of farmers and encouraging the growth of healthy trees.
Farm Africa will also provide farmers with training on how to take care of the trees and risk mitigation measures, while Acorn will facilitate the monitoring and selling of CRUs.
Benefits for farmers
Farmers will receive up to 80 per cent of the sale revenue of the CRUs, with each unit representing one tonne of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere and stored in tree biomass.
Farmers with a variety of agroforestry trees on their land will be able to earn additional income from carbon sequestration each year the ‘biomass’, for example, tree growth, on the land increases. The final income each year depends on the size and type of the trees on their farm. Payments are often a combination of cash and in-kind benefits, such as seedlings or beehives.
Farm Africa project coordinator, Patrick Nyaga said, “However, given the unique circumstances of every farmer and plot of land, no specific numbers can be given at the moment”.
Recent transactions of Acorn CRUs in the carbon market, which is a trading system where carbon credits are bought and sold, have ranged between €20 (approximately KSh3,000) and €31 (approximately KSh4,650) per CRU.
Healthy soil will be a major outcome
Acorn presents an opportunity for Kenyan smallholder farmers to sustainably manage forest ecosystems and biodiversity.
Healthy soil will be a major outcome of the initiative as tree roots hold more water in the soil and hold soil together, which leads to less erosion and improved soil fertility.
Trees also provide shade for other crops and can stimulate diversity in plants and animals.
The Acorn initiative builds upon the success of phase one of Farm Africa’s regenerative agriculture project, which ran from 2020 to 2021 in Embu County. The project supported farmers to increase their production and incomes through regenerative agricultural practices that improved soil health and food security in the face of climate change.
Through this collaboration, Farm Africa intends to further scale the project, increasing both in number of farmers and in number of trees planted by the farmers.
This piece was originally published on the Farm Africa blog.
All images: Farm Africa/Brian Ongoro