By Nelson Mandela Muhoozi
Solidaridad, a Civil Society Organisation recently launched a 3.8-million-euro carbon farming project to fight poverty and climate change.
The Project seeks to unlock the potential of agroforestry in reducing the carbon footprint in the coffee supply chain.
Felicity Acan, the CSO’s country manager, said at the project launch that the project aims at building capacity and enhancing the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices, establishing a prefinancing mechanism that strengthens farmers’ ability to profitably engage in carbon farming, and coherently provide extra farm income (carbon credit) to smallholder coffee farmers around the country.
The project will run for five years and will target 50,000 coffee agroforestry farmers in different geographical locations including, Mt. Elgon, West Nile, Central, Albertine, South West, and Northern region.
The carbon farming project, Acan said, aims at emphasizing the adoption of actions and commitments to reduce carbon emissions by 22% by the year 2030.
“The project intervention directly contributes to strengthening the climate funding mechanism which is one of the priority activities identified in the NDC Partnership for Climate change. We want to make farming communities more resilient to the changing climate, and improve the quality of life for coffee farmers while mitigating climate change through the sequestration and reduction of greenhouse gases,” Acan said.
According to Geoffrey Kimenya, the Project Manager at Solidaridad, coffee farmers are going to receive carbon credit payments so that they can ably interplant coffee trees with other carbon-absorbing trees for at least 20 years.
“We are going to provide free seedlings and pre-financing to coffee farmers so that they can now earn income from the lucrative carbon markets that they have been missing out on. Since they already have land, this is an opportunity they can earn from while sequestering carbon, he said.
“One hectare of a coffee farm with about 60 Trees can absorb about seven tones of carbon dioxide in a year, which according to our calculation will generate close to 115 euros on one acre of land for a smallholder coffee farmer per year,” said Kimenya.
He added, “This price of carbon is small and the global corporations and institutions like ACORN in the carbon markets are debating to see if the price can increase from 20 euros to 40 or 50 euros.
If the prices of carbon increase to 50 euros, Kimenya says this is a great passive income opportunity for coffee smallholder farmers and those involved in agroforestry.
“So, our role is to sensitize farmers and train them in climate-smart farming practices. We shall arrange pre-financing for farmers so that they can have money to invest in inputs and new practices and we shall set up a revolving fund so that loan repayments can be used for further scaling,” he said.
According to Acan, smallholder farmers will sign up for ACORN, an innovative marketplace where they can earn money from carbon sequestered in the trees on their land.
“We expect to have over 50,000 farmers on board by 2026 and about 392570 tonnes of carbon sequestered,” she said.
A coffee farm of 2 hectares in size can accommodate between 150 to 200 trees and with good farm management practices, one can remove an additional 20 tonnes of carbon emissions from the atmosphere each year. So, with this project, we hope to transform climate victims into climate heroes.
Through interplanting trees with coffee, Robert Charles Aguma, Environmental Specialist from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, said farmers will start earning additional income while helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.
“Even more important, this project will help to drive the quality and standards of coffee high and also increase coffee production thus quickening attainment of the Coffee Road Map agender of producing 20 million 60kg Coffee bags by 2030,” added Aguma