Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project

Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project

The Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project is an often-cited lighthouse project. The World Bank promotes it as a trendsetter for linking CSA with new carbon markets for agriculture. It is being implemented by the Swedish organization SCC-ViA and co-financed by the BioCarbon Fund of the World Bank and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Originally, 60,000 smallholders were slated to convert their agricultural practices on around 45,000 hectares between 2009 and 2030. Shortly after the launch, the target was lowered to 30,000 farmers.

Measures cover surface tillage (conservation agriculture, see above), mulching, agroforestry and water management, as well as Syngenta hybrid seeds and fertilizers. Farmers were said to benefit in two ways: firstly through higher yields, and secondly through the proceeds from the offset credits sold for the carbon stored in the soil. However, due to the low prices per ton of carbon, this only amounts to three dollars per hectare per year at the most – and most families own only one hectare of land. The cheap offset credits can in turn be used by buyers to legitimize their greenhouse gas emissions.

A scientific study carried out in 2017 came to the conclusion that the poorest farming households implemented the measures least – for good reason: They are increasingly confronted with the challenge of reconciling the new climate-friendly agricultural techniques imposed from the outside with their own survival. Reduced tillage or trees on the already limited subsistence area make little sense when there is a food shortage. Programs that focus on carbon sequestration are aimed at something other than the local needs of secure and sustainable food production. Critics also point out that the use of hybrid seed creates new dependencies. Above all, however, the question of the target group arises: Why should smallholders, of all people, be encouraged to store carbon in their subsistence fields, when the majority of emissions come from industrial export-oriented agriculture and livestock production?