Addressing climatic changes will boost farmers’ returns

Farmers harvesting vegetables in a rural drip irrigation scheme in Kajiado. [Courtesy]

Having a “fair and just” value chain ensures consumers are willing to pay fairer prices, enabling producers to earn decent livelihoods.

It is about ensuring a fair and sustainable supply chain that protects nature and the environment.

Sadly, addressing climate change isn’t fair. Often, those with the lowest carbon footprint are hit hardest. Small-holder farmers are grappling with the loss of arable land, yields and livelihoods due to extreme weather and rising temperatures.

Drought, floods, crop diseases, pests, and soil erosion threaten the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. If farm output is hit, then consumers feel the pinch. Fairtrade, a lobby for producer organisations has rolled out a plan to make farmers more resilient to climate change and reduce their emission of greenhouse gases.

Through the Fairtrade Climate Standard, the entity supports small-holder farmers and rural communities to produce carbon credits and gain access to the carbon market.

The plan ensures a minimum price for carbon credits generated, and which are available for purchase.

Under this plan, firms can purchase fairtrade carbon credits – tonnes of carbon dioxide that either have been prevented from entering or have been removed from the atmosphere.

This is a win-win situation where small-holder farmers make an income while contributing to climate action and corporates get a chance to mitigate their carbon emissions.

The plan allows firms that offer Fairtrade products to purchase credits and compensate for emissions in that product’s supply chain.

Last year, the plan saw coffee farmers from Ethiopia earn Sh30.4 million from the sale of carbon credits accumulated from the use of improved cooking stoves. In Ghana, through the Sankofa project, farmers earn and trade carbon credits from the trees in the future. Fairtrade supports farmers to address climate change by adopting good agricultural practices and alternative livelihoods.

Through the project, the entity has assisted cocoa farmers to roll out climate-smart approaches and livelihood diversification by embracing agroforestry and inter-cropping the cash crop with yam, cassava, plantain, and peppers.

Farmers have been able to increase their income by almost 26 per cent compared to conventional practices with environmental conditions improving the productivity of their plots. The same piece of land is expected to yield more cocoa.

In Kenya, smallholder coffee farmers participating in the Fairtrade Climate Academy Project are building knowledge and skills to reduce losses and damage caused by extreme climates such as floods and drought.

Coffee farmers and co-operatives are installing water tanks to hold excess water, providing a reliable source for domestic and farm water needs during harsh seasons.

The project has supported installation of 1,300 efficient cooking appliances. Women save 40 per cent in time and need 60 per cent less firewood leading to less deforestation.

-The writer is the Programmes Director, Fairtrade Africa


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