A concept note on Agroforestry based Climate-smart farming practices
(Carbon sequestration and CSR-NGO partnership)
Name of the organization: The Himalayan Ecology & Treatment of Natural Agriculture Samiti (HETONA)
Project Title: Carbon sequestration through Agroforestry based Climate smart farming practices
Introduction: Carbon emission is the biggest problem before humanity today. Limiting the rising temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius is the biggest challenge for governments all over the world. Reduction of emissions and limiting of temperature cannot be done without reducing the use of fossil fuels drastically. The governments are not unanimous to cut the fossil fuels as per the Paris Agreement commitments; however, they have voluntarily fixed their targets in compliance with nationally determined contributions in parlance with the agreement. The government of India has also pledged to reduce the emission voluntarily and set her intended national determined contributions submitted in 2015 an economy-wide emissions intensity target of 33% to 35% below 2005 levels, electric power capacity target of 40% installed capacity from non-fossil-based energy resources by 2030 (conditional to international support), and creating a carbon sink expansion target of creating an additional (cumulative) carbon sink of 2.5–3 billion tons through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
Uttarakhand state is the worst victim of climate change or now the climate “crisis” a term frequently has been used by environmentalists at Glasgow COP26. A Himalayan state, whose glaciers, rivers, fragile rocks, forests, agriculture, and people already susceptible to fragile ecosystems have become more vulnerable to climate change with frequent occurrences of calamities. With rising temperature glaciers the source of perennial rivers is melting at a faster pace resulting in their shrinking as well as causing unseasonal flash floods. A state where the incidents of natural calamities like earthquakes, floods, landslides, and droughts are the hallmarks of every year, now triggered with the climate crisis in recent periods, and their occurrences have become unexpected and regular. The worst affected are agriculture, horticulture, and forestry apart from normal human lives.
Rationale: HETONA has been working in the field of agriculture and livelihoods from 2002 onwards. The diversified agriculture support project mainly aimed at crop diversifications and the livelihood improvements project envisaged creating on-farm livelihood opportunities for small and marginal farmers. While working on these projects, HETONA realized that without addressing the issue of climate change the pattern of present agricultural practices and land use cannot be transformed to climate adaptability. In this background, the concept of climate-resilient farming has emerged.
The solution is carbon sequestration through green technology, reducing the consumption of carbon-intensive products, increasing carbon sinks through afforestation, crop diversification, and adaptation. Decarbonizing the economy is a long-term process and green technology needs massive funds. Different countries have voluntarily pledged to reduce carbon emissions and set their NDC goals as per Paris Agreement 2015 including India. We propose a solution of CSR-NGO partnership on carbon sequestration by investing in climate-smart agriculture and agroforestry. In this project, CSR can create carbon offsets and NGOs can get funds for their community works and socio-economic pursuits.
Carbon Offsets: Carbon offsets are created by investing in climate-resilient agriculture and agroforestry project because carbon credits stand for the right to emit that carbon, while the carbon offsets represent the production of a certain amount of sustainable energy to counterbalance the use of fossil fuels. Potentialities to invest in agriculture and forestry is quite high as the government of India had set carbon sink of 2.5–3 billion tons through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. In a nutshell, carbon offsetting is the act of canceling out the CO2 emission produced in one place with the act of reducing emission in another place.
Climate-resilient farming and agroforestry are one area where carbon sequestration can be faster, easier and widespread. Since the carbon market is in an upswing trend and it was estimated at $400 million last year is expected to grow $10-25 billion by 2030 according to carbon credit.com if countries aggressively pursue their climate change targets. The international price of per metric ton carbon is expected to rise to $150 by 2022, which means at present around $125 per metric ton means INR 9305. On this basis, we can safely put per kg CO2 prices between INR 8 to 10. Planting a grafted sapling takes 3 to 4 years to become a mature tree of around 15 feet in height with 9 to 10 inches in diameter of the trunk. According to Eco Matcher and its tree-planting partners, this size of a tree sequestrates 25kg CO2 per year. The average age of this type of tree is estimated to be 20 – 25 years and carbon sequestration is calculated for 17 years.
Similarly, millet crops; sorghum, foxtail millet, finger millet, pearl millet, barnyard millet, etc. also sequestrate CO2 from the atmosphere, though its calculation is complex, but calculated on an area (ha) basis and formula are available, however, phytolith occluded carbon has not yet been fully considered as a global carbon sink. But, it is a well-established factor that millets are tolerant to droughts and weather extremes, thus resilient to climate change. Fruit trees can be planted on periphery of farm land and an “agroforestry based climate-smart-farming” can be undertaken. In the hills in a given topography tress can be planted on periphery of farmland to riverside only. Hence 100 trees can be safely planted on one acre. The average holdings in the hills are 0.6 hectare and each smallholder can plant and nurture 100 saplings. With 1000 smallholders the total land would be around 600 ha or 1500 acres. The concept can be implemented on a pilot basis on cluster approach.
Goal: To promote eco-friendly farming practices and agroforestry with effective value chains to improve the socio-economic conditions of smallholders through optimizing the natural resource base.
- To form 50 Farmer’s Interest Groups (FIGs) each representing 20 to 25 farmers and sensitize them about the need for agroforestry based climate-smart-farming interventions ensuring better participation in 25 selected villages.
- To empower the capacity of 1000 smallholders in making fair choices for agroforestry based climate-smart-farming coping with current climatic conditions.
- To increase organic agricultural/horticulture production ensuring qualitative produce with indigenous knowledge and exclusive use of biofertilizer and pesticides.
- To establish linkage between production and value addition and chains by establishing a Community Facility Centre and linkage with marketing agencies.
- To ensure 25 kg carbon offsets from per tree for 17 years through capture and store from atmosphere.
Impact: Securing farm-based improved livelihoods with the adoption of Agroforestry based Climate smart farming practices to reduce GHG.
Strategy: We will use project management performance metrics to track the progress. A Gantt chart will be prepared which consists of several elements of the project that include resources, milestones, tasks, and dependencies. Also, we will apply the measurement of progress and success through outcomes against activities, objectives, inputs given, and outputs provided. The project concept is on participatory approach. Community will be involved in planning, implementation and post implementation phases which will ensure the sustainability of the project and the activities will sustain after the withdrawal of the project. PRA approach will ensure that the community do not change land use pattern at least for 20 years. Besides the formation and training of farmers ‘interest groups including women self-help groups and their cooperatives/ producer organization at a cluster level, will be the agencies for the post-project period for sustainability. The concept is scalable which can be scaled up in similar agro-climatic zones everywhere.
- Collective action for all agriculture-based issues with shared benefits.
- Strong and sustainable institution at village level with proper representation of FIG.
- Linkage of FIG to the bank, market, and other stakeholders.
- Empowerment of all farmers associated and village institution with collective and shared benefits
- Crop diversification, agroforestry, adaption and increased income of all 1000 farmers.
- Adoption of recommended package of practice input by all 1000 farmers in about 600 ha
- Increased income of smallholders. It is expected that the income will be doubled and tripled.
- Creation of about 2500 metric tons of carbon offsets through catches and store from atmosphere.
Budget: A detailed budgetary estimates will be made after the consent on the concept note. But preliminary estimates are @ of Rs. 50000 per ha for three years. The total cost of the project would be around INR 30 million.
Ranveer Singh Rana
Secretary, HETONA, Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand
Mobile: 9412077721, 7417887721