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FAO Guidebook Highlights Carbon Finance Options for Smallholder Farmers

FAO10 January 2011: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has published a guidebook titled "Climate Change Mitigation Finance for Smallholder Agriculture - A guide book to harvesting soil carbon sequestration benefits," which underscores the role of agriculture in global climate change mitigation efforts and describes approaches for participating in carbon financing opportunities.

The guidebook is divided into sections on the role of climate change finance in the context of agricultural development and poverty reduction, and a guide to developing soil carbon sequestration crediting projects. It initially notes that agricultural emissions are expected to increase under business as usual, but that as populations grow, there are opportunities for pursuing new agricultural development pathways. Highlighting the interest in climate-smart agriculture, the guidebook describes opportunities that provide food security and mitigation benefits, but stress that concerns remain over the ability to monitor and report on soil carbon emissions. It underscores particular challenges to soil carbon mitigation efforts including, delayed return on investment, collective action failure and a lack of tenure security. It notes that some existing carbon markets accept cropland and grassland mitigation methodologies and that most will accept methane biogas methodologies. The guidebook underscores the challenges related to classifying agricultural mitigation practices, and calls for a movement from a focus on projects to sectoral approaches to carbon accounting.

In the section on establishing an offset projects, the guidebook follows the stages of screening for eligible standards and methodologies, developing project idea notes, describing the phases of developing and financing a project, as well as outlining project development costs and risks. On lessons learned, the book suggests that those interested: prepare for a long lead-in time for an iterative process; allow for piloting and a phased roll-out of implementation; clarify national policy and institutional set-up; and do not overly rely on consultants, as opposed to local champions.

Funding for the book was provided in part by the Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture Programme (MICCA) of the FAO. [Publication: Climate Change Mitigation Finance for Smallholder Agriculture - A Guide Book to Harvesting Soil Carbon Sequestration Benefits]