Rwanda: Farmers Expected to Earn, Reduce Carbon Emissions in New Project
By Michel Nkurunziza
Carbon farming in Africa has the potential to store up to 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon or 10 percent of the carbon reduction needed to avoid the catastrophic 1.5 degrees of global warming, according to experts.
A carbon farming project was launched in Africa on September 6, during the 12th annual summit of the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) taking place in Kigali.
The launch was graced by Jai Shroff, the CEO of UPL Ltd -a global provider of sustainable agriculture solutions, Didier Drogba- Chelsea’s legendary striker, Mauricio Macri- the Chairman of FIFA foundation, Agnes Kalibata- the president of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as well as officials in charge of environment in Rwanda.
The new project is set to reduce one billion tonnes (gigaton) of carbon emissions by 2040 through enabling farmers to generate and sell carbon credits.
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It will work with reliable and recognised carbon certification bodies that enable agro-systems to create and validate emission and carbon capture protocols that will generate carbon credits that will directly benefit farmers.
Trading carbon credits is done by reducing emissions extensively beyond the required levels and selling them to those unable to meet their reduction requirements.
Rwanda, like some few African countries, is preparing to leverage a market scheme of trading carbon credits, Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) announced.
Farmers will generate and sell carbon credits by improving agricultural land management such as reduced fertiliser applications, improved water and residue management, organic fertilisers, sequestering carbon in the soil, increasing afforestation, reforestation, revegetation conservation and avoidance of deforestation reduction of fuel sources among other practices.
“The farmers can fight climate change and improve soil health. We are committed to bring a new concept in agriculture called carbon farming. We need to value carbon sequestration by farmers. We believe all the farmers in Africa, worldwide should be rewarded for sequestering carbon,” said Shroff.
He said the project could also be implemented in Rwanda like other regional countries like Kenya.
“We also have projects in West Africa, Southern Africa and we are going to scale it across Africa. We will have working groups and reward farmers sequestering carbon,” Shroff said.
Kalibata commended the carbon farming initiative and urged African farmers to embrace it.
“We have to plant more trees; more food and we have an opportunity to rebuild our soils because our environment is really getting tired and yet we have to continue feeding our people and continue eating.
“This is an opportunity to link farmers to carbon farming. Businesses can commit to engage in buying carbon credits from farmers,” she said.
The carbon farming project was launched in Africa ahead of COP27- the 27th annual UN climate summit to take place in Africa, Egypt in November this year.
Universities and environmental institutions are among those to ensure that farmers’ efforts are guided by scientific protocols.
The certification NGOs will be involved in the process, project initiators said.
The initiative is said to have potential to generate an additional $15 billion in additional revenue for agriculture ecosystems around the world.
Between 2021 and 2024, the Gigaton Carbon goal will initially be piloted in Brazil, Argentina, USA, India and some European countries, which will be followed by a scaling-up phase from 2025 to 2040 worldwide.
In its first phase, the project will cover one million hectares and in the expansion phase, it will impact more than 100 million hectares worldwide.
So far since October last year, 20,000 carbon credits have been certified benefitting 100,000 small and medium farmers in three countries on 230,000 hectares on two continents.
From 2022 to 2024, at least 400,000 farmers will be reached in eight countries on one million hectares on four continents.