Agriculture must become carbon negative if we are to slow global warming. Afforestation and reforestation projects are eligible for carbon reduction emission credits under the rules governing the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, but farmers do not currently benefit from mitigation and carbon offset mechanisms in formal carbon markets. The exclusion of agricultural projects was based on uncertainties in our ability to measure the extent of carbon sequestration, a lack of understanding of the costs of aggregating and organizing farmers, and the anticipated high costs of monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV). These same concerns have also made accessing voluntary markets very difficult.
But there are solutions. Small farmers could potentially be rewarded for practices that are commonly considered beneficial for soil fertility and yields. Efficient manure usage, zero or minimum tillage, changes in water management, management of crop residues, use of compost, and biochar are some of the practices that not only sequester carbon and reduce emissions but increase productivity and offer a path toward climate change adaptation. The IFAD-IFPRI program will assess the policies and programs that encourage the development of climate change mitigation markets for agriculture in and across four case study countries: Ghana, Morocco, Mozambique and Vietnam.
The program will tackle four research activities:
►Carbon market activities in case study countries
This includes a review and assessment of ongoing activities related to agricultural climate mitigation; organizations involved; agricultural sub-sectors targeted; and the specific regions in the countries that benefit from such activities.
►Rural poor access to carbon markets
This activity examines the institutions and policies affecting the rural poor’s access to carbon markets.Such institutions include input and output markets, supply chains, farmer organizations, NGOs, and producers of high-value crops. Policies and factors supporting and hindering farmer access to markets will also be examined. These include trade and input and output policies, infrastructure-related factors, and general barriers to carbon market access imposed by the markets themselves.
►Climate change mitigation potential
The agricultural mitigation potential is quantified by agricultural sub-sector, location, and mitigation activity (including both reduction of emissions and carbon sequestration). The project will produce estimates of both the technical GHG mitigation potential (the overall potential regardless of costs and benefits) and an estimation of the costs and benefits of various mitigation activities are envisioned.
In all four countries, pilot studies for testing agricultural mitigation activities and testing MRV on the ground will be initiated. This will include consultations with officials and farmers at local case study sites, the implementation of a carbon baseline inventory of the study site, the development of technical factors relating to agricultural activities with carbon savings, the testing of MRV, and the training of individuals for assessment and reporting.