Carbon finance to restore crop fieldsKenya

In January 2014, some of Kenya’s poorest farmers became the first in the world to receive carbon credits for improved management of their land. The Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project targets parts of western Kenya where arable land is becoming scarcer and less productive, leaving farmers hard-pressed to feed their families. Starting in 2007, the project has introduced sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) techniques to enrich the soil and boost yields. These include a variety of technologies and practices such as low-till cropping, composting livestock manure, the planting of trees and the addition of nitrogen-fixing legumes. As a result, plants and soil sequester more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Many of these practices also help to protect against floods and droughts, while increasing productivity. Results so far have been very promising. The carbon credits issued in 2014 alone represent a reduction of 24,788 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, yields have increased by up to 15–20%. In all, 60,000 households on 45,000 hectares will benefit from this project (World Bank 2014; 1 Neate 2013; 2 Shames et al. 2012 3).


CCAFS Big Facts - Carbon finance to restore Kenya's crop fields:


  • 1

    World Bank. 2014. Kenyans earn first ever carbon credits from sustainable farming. Press release, 21 January 2014. NAIROBI, January 21, 2014 – Smallholder farmers in western Kenya are now benefiting from carbon credits generated by improving farming techniques. These are the first credits worldwide issued under the sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) carbon accounting methodology.
  • 2

    Neate P. 2013. Climate-smart agriculture success stories from farming communities around the world. Wageningen, Netherlands: CCAFS; Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). To ensure a food-secure future, farming must become climate resilient. Around the world, governments and communities are adopting innovations that are improving the lives of millions while reducing agriculture’s climate footprint. These successful examples show the many ways climate-smart agriculture can take shape, and should serve as inspiration for future policies and investments.
  • 3

    Shames S, Wekesa A, Wachiye E. 2012. Institutional innovations in African smallholder carbon projects. CCAFS Report 8. Case Study: Western Kenya Smallholder Agriculture Carbon Finance project: Vi Agroforestry. Copenhagen: CCAFS. This paper synthesizes the insights of six African agricultural carbon project case studies and identifies institutional innovations among these projects that are contributing to long-term project success while maximizing benefits and minimizing risk for participating farmers. We review project organization and management, the structure and role of community groups within the projects, costs and benefits for managers and farmers, strategies to manage risks to farmers, and efforts to support women’s participation. Projects have developed organizational systems for financial management, agricultural extension, and carbon monitoring. All of these were managed by project management entities, with farmers implementing practices and supporting monitoring systems. Most projects engaged farmers in small groups and larger clusters of groups, which enabled broad participation, efficient contracting, timely communication, provision of extension services, benefit-sharing, and gender-focused activities. Direct carbon payments to farmers were low. Consequently projects needed to manage expectations around benefits carefully, support more efficient systems of aggregation and ensure non-cash benefits for farmers. Managing power dynamics within and among farmer groups was a significant challenge to ensuring equitable decision-making and participation. Mechanisms for settling conflict over land and benefits were also critical. We present action research questions that emerged from the first phase of this work and discuss the future of the initiative. Case studies about each agriculture carbon project from which our analysis is drawn can be downloaded along with the main report.

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CCAFS Climate-Smart Agriculture 101

The basics

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrative approach to address these interlinked challenges of food security and climate change, that explicitly aims for three objectives:

A. Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security and development;

B. Adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels; and

C. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (including crops, livestock and fisheries).

Entry points

Agriculture affects and is affected by climate change in a wide range of ways and there are numerous entry points for initiating CSA programmes or enhancing existing activities. Productivity, mitigation and adaptation actions can take place at different technological, organizational, institutional and political levels. To help you navigate these myriad entry points we have grouped them under three Thematic Areas: (i) CSA practices, (ii) CSA systems approaches, and (iii) Enabling environments for CSA. Each entry point is then described and analysed in terms of productivity, adoption and mitigation potential and is illustrated with cases studies, references and internet links for further information.

Develop a CSA plan

Planning for, implementing and monitoring CSA projects and programmes evolves around issues of understanding the context including identification of major problems/barriers and opportunities related to the focus of the programme; developing and prioritizing solutions and designing plans; implementation; and monitoring and evaluation. Most major development agencies have their own framework for project and programme formulation and management but CCAFS has developed a specific approach for planning, implementing and assessing CSA projects and programme called CSA plan. CSA plan was developed to provide a guide for operationalizing CSA planning, implementation and monitoring at scale. CSA plan consist of four major components: (1) Situation analysis; (2) Targeting and prioritizing; (3) Program support; and (4) Monitoring. evaluation and learning.


To meet the objectives of CSA, such as agricultural development, food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation, a number of potential funding sources are available. For instance, climate finance sources may be used to leverage agriculture finance and mainstream climate change into agricultural investments. This section offers an overview of potential sources of funding for activities in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) at national, regional and international levels and for a number of different potential ‘clients’ including governments, civil society, development organizations and others. Additionally, it includes options to search among a range of funding opportunities according to CSA focus area, sector and financing instrument.

Resource library

CSA Guide provides a short and concise introduction and overview of the multifaceted aspects of climate-smart agriculture. At the same time it offers links to references and key resources that allows for further investigations and understanding of specific topics of interest. In the resource library we have gathered all the references, key resources, terms and questions in one place for a quick overview and easy access that can be used as a part of or independently of the other sections of the website. The resource library is divided into six sections; (1) References – list all publications, links and blogs referred to on the website; (2) Tools – list all the CSA tools presented on the website; (3) Key terms – explains the most important and frequently used terms related to CSA; (4) Frequently asked questions (FAQ) – provides a rapid overview of the most common questions asked on climate-smart agriculture; (5) About – where you can find out more about the purpose and structure of, as well as on the organizations and authors behind the website; (6) Contact.

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