Rwanda: Farmers set to win and reduce carbon emissions in new project

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Carbon farming in Africa has the potential to store up to 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon, or 10% of the carbon reduction needed to avoid catastrophic global warming of 1.5 degrees, experts say.

A carbon farming project was launched in Africa on September 6, during the 12th annual summit of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) being held in Kigali.

The launch was honored by Jai Shroff, CEO of UPL Ltd -a global provider of sustainable agriculture solutions, Didier Drogba- Legendary Chelsea striker Mauricio Macri- FIFA Foundation Chairman Agnes Kalibata – the president of the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as well as officials in charge of the environment in Rwanda.

The new project aims to reduce one billion tonnes (gigatons) of carbon emissions by 2040 by allowing farmers to generate and sell carbon credits.

It will work with reliable and recognized carbon certification bodies that allow agro-systems to create and validate carbon emission and capture protocols that will generate carbon credits that will directly benefit farmers.

Trading carbon credits is done by significantly reducing emissions beyond required levels and selling them to those who are unable to meet their reduction requirements.

Rwanda, like a few African countries, is preparing to take advantage of a carbon credit trading market system, the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) has announced.

Farmers will generate and sell carbon credits by improving farmland management such as reduced fertilizer applications, improved water and residue management, organic fertilizers, soil carbon sequestration , increased afforestation, reforestation, conservation of revegetation and avoidance of deforestation reduction of fuel sources, among other practices.

“Farmers can fight climate change and improve soil health. We are committed to introducing a new concept in agriculture called carbon farming. We must value farmers’ carbon sequestration. We believe that all farmers Africa and the world should be rewarded for carbon sequestration,” Shroff said.

He said the project could also be implemented in Rwanda as in other countries in the region like Kenya.

“We also have projects in West Africa, Southern Africa and we are going to expand them all over Africa. We will have task forces and reward farmers who sequester carbon,” Shroff said.

Kalibata hailed the carbon production 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 keep feeding our people and keep eating.

“This is an opportunity to connect farmers to carbon farming. Companies can commit to buying carbon credits from farmers,” she said.

The carbon production project was launched in Africa ahead of COP27, the 27th annual UN climate summit to be held in Africa, Egypt, in November this year.

Universities and environmental institutions are among those ensuring that farmers’ efforts are guided by scientific protocols.

Certification NGOs will be involved in the process, the project initiators said.

The initiative is said to have the potential to generate an additional $15 billion in incremental revenue for agricultural ecosystems around the world.

Between 2021 and 2024, the Gigaton Carbon Lens will initially be piloted in Brazil, Argentina, the United States, India, and select European countries, followed by a scale-up phase from 2025 to 2040 worldwide.

In its first phase, the project will cover one million hectares and in its expansion phase, it will affect more than 100 million hectares worldwide.

Since October last year, 20,000 carbon credits have been certified for the benefit of 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 affected in eight countries on one million hectares on four continents.

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