Money Does Grow on Trees

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Technical Specialist, Green, Capital Markets

In September 2023, Kenya held the first Africa Climate Summit, that brought together players from the private and public sectors from various African nations and engaging stakeholders from outside the continent. The Summit provided a platform for discussions around strategies that would mitigating and building resilience against climate change. Among other topics, adoption of innovative solutions such as agroforestry, as a mean to combat climate change and preserve our planet’s ecosystem, was discussed.

Despite being centuries old, agroforestry which aligns with modern sustainability development goal, has been gaining traction in the recent years. The fusion of agriculture and forestry holds the potential to unlock both environmental benefits and economic opportunities. Notably, it enables the trade of carbon credits, offering financial incentives to those who embrace sustainable land management and carbon sequestration through climate-smart agriculture.

Agroforestry presents a powerful solution for carbon sequestration, leveraging the natural capacity of trees as carbon sinks. Smallholder farmers can significantly reduce carbon footprints through offsetting emissions by integrating trees with crop cultivation hence practise smart climate agriculture. This transition offers them the potential for financial gain through participation in carbon trading, ultimately enhancing their livelihoods and benefiting local communities at large.

The adoption of agroforestry not only delivers environmental benefits but also fosters economic empowerment, achieved through incentivising sustainable practices, thus the small-holder farmers can benefit economically by adopting environmentally friendly techniques. Agroforestry empowers the farmers to diversify their income streams and reap the benefits of practising sustainable land management such as improvement of soil quality and curbing climate change while preserving the planet for future generations.

Additionally, local communities can harness the revenue generated from carbon sequestration projects. Community development in healthcare, education and infrastructure can be enhanced by reinvesting the income form the carbon sequestration projects. And so, The advantages of agroforestry extend beyond individual farmers and communities. Entire countries and the African continent as a whole stand to gain from cleaner air, healthier ecosystems, and increased environmental resilience.

To realize this potential, African governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations should recognize the value of agroforestry and provide support to accelerate its adoption. Actions that encourage agroforestry and facilitate access to carbon markets can advance the growth of this transformative and innovative practice.

Promoting actions that encourage agroforestry and facilitate access to carbon markets can drive the growth of this transformative and innovative practice. Development organizations such as the African Development Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development and Green Climate Fund are funding programmes that enable carbon sequestration in Africa. Their initiatives have over time supported restoration and conservation of the African biodiversity, soil, and water systems. These mechanisms have aided in powering the transformation of African landscapes into hubs of carbon sequestration.

Evidently, it is the achievement of the Acorn Agroforestry Carbon Programme by the Rabobank through its partnership with project coordinators including FSD Africa and cooperatives working directly with smallholder farmers in Africa, among other partners. Through the programme, the smallholder farmers particularly those in areas impacted by climate change, are enabled to transit to agroforestry.

The smallholder farmers are equipped to earn additional income through sequestering carbon from their carbon-capturing agroforestry; as the continent’s air gets cleaned up.

Therefore, agroforestry with its capacity to offset carbon emissions and improve the well-being of African communities, magnifies the synergy of environmental conservation and economic prosperity. It underscores the promise of sustainability as a pathway to a greener and more resilient future.

Beyond being a financial asset, carbon credits harvested from agroforestry projects serve as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of nature and humanity, representing an investment in a future where our planet becomes healthier from the choices we make today.

Africa, endowed with biodiversity and natural resource that offers an opportunity for environmental and economic transformation. Carbon. Carbon sequestration in Africa is not merely a dream but a tangible and innovative solution demonstrating that indeed that money does indeed grow on trees, which are our partners safeguarding the environment and securing our future. These trees are the lungs of our planet.