Kenyan Farmers are Claiming Their Place in the Carbon Market
Tobias Omondi didn’t always feel so optimistic. From his farm in Kisumu, in western Kenya, his outlook on his land and family’s future rose and fell with market fluctuations and increasingly unpredictable growing seasons.
“Getting money,” says Tobias, “was not very easy.”
A steady income is now the norm for Tobias and his family. He joined Trees for the Future’s Forest Garden training program in 2020 and transformed his land through a regenerative agroforestry technique called the Forest Garden Approach. Now, he has everything he needs to eat and sell growing on his own land.
And now, Tobias can add carbon to the list of income-generating opportunities on his land.
In early 2023, TREES announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with Aspiration, a high-impact climate finance company, and their $21 million investment in carbon projects through TREES. The partnership is enabling TREES to provide necessary support and training to 15,000 farmers (including Tobias) in and around the Lake Victoria Watershed in western Kenya to plant 87 million trees, effectively creating 15,000 hectares of regenerative agroforestry land. The restoration effort will generate 4.13 million Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) and help farmers adapt to the impacts of climate.
Aspiration will provide a portion of the profits from the sale of the VCUs back to TREES and the farmers involved in the projects. In addition to the VCUs produced, farmers are restoring the health and productivity of their land, improving soil health and increasing biodiversity, dietary diversity and income. This project will help farmers diversify the crops that they grow and sell from an average of two crops up to an average of 24 crops depending on the size and diversity of their Forest Garden.
“Part of our due diligence in assessing the carbon project partners we work with is a shared commitment to the pressing issue of deforestation and its impact on the environment, communities and wildlife,” said Olivia Albrecht, CEO of Aspiration. “We are proud to partner with Trees for the Future, a proven leader in promoting reforestation and sustainable agriculture.”
Moving forward, Tobias and his fellow program participants will earn money for the carbon they are sustainably capturing and storing on their land.
“Now, I can get something to put in my pocket,” he says. “My lastborn is 17 years old. He is in high school now, so I am using the money to pay school fees…and our daily bread.”
Since its founding in 1989, TREES has planted over 300 million trees with farming communities around the world. Through their Forest Garden Approach, TREES teaches farmers to transform their land with thousands of fast-growing, ecologically appropriate trees and dozens of other crops, creating new possibilities for themselves and their communities. The average Forest Garden in this project will be made up of 5,800 trees per hectare, resulting in a total of 4.13 million metric tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere over 20 years.
“Partnerships like the one we’ve developed with Aspiration are key to expanding our work to not only combat climate change, but also improve the lives of farmers and communities in Kenya and beyond,” according to Trees for the Future Executive Director Tim McLellan. “We’re thrilled to partner with Aspiration and look forward to all the positive impact this partnership will bring to bear.”
Aspiration holds one of the largest portfolios of high-impact climate assets, with projects across the globe supporting nature-based carbon removal solutions. Through a rigorous vetting process backed by major independent carbon standards, the company carefully identifies, verifies, monitors and reports on each project throughout its lifecycle.
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