Kenya first to earn carbon credits from sustainable farming

SAO PAULO Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:01pm EST

SAO PAULO Jan 21 (Reuters) - A project bringing together thousands of small farmers in western Kenya has become the first to earn carbon credits using a new sustainable farming accounting system, the World Bank said on Tuesday.

According to the bank - whose BioCarbon Fund is financing the initiative - the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project issued 24,788 credits under the Verified Carbon Standard last week.

It is the first such issuance under the new carbon accounting system for low-carbon agriculture approved in 2011.

The success of the initiative in Kenya could give a boost to other programs in the world seeking to cut greenhouse gas emissions from farming. Agriculture acocunts for about 14 percent of global emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Heat-trapping gases from agriculture and livestock reached 4.69 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2010, the most recent data available, according to the U.S.-based Worldwatch Institute, an environmental think tank based in Washington. That was 13 percent above 1990 levels.

The World Bank's BioCarbon Fund will buy some of the credits earned by the Kenyan project, investing $600,000 by 2017. The bank did not give details on the price per credit.

The project in Kenya includes a wide range of low-carbon farming techniques that increase organic matter in the soil and the amount of carbon sequestrated, or held in the ground and out of the atmosphere.

About 45,000 hectares (110 acres) of farmland have been involved in the project so far, said the institutions working with it.

Swedish NGO Vi Agroforestry is responsible for the implementation of the program. The French Development Agency and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, based in Switzerland, are also supprting the project. (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)