For the first time ever, smallholder farmers in Zambia have been awarded carbon credits worth US$500 000 by the World Bank for their efforts in reducing greenhouse emissions.
“This shows that climate change mitigation and socio-economic development can be simultaneously achieved through active participation of local communities,” said Ademola Braimoh, coordinator for the World Bank’s Climate-smart agriculture for Africa programme.
Braimoh said since the implementation of the project under Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO), 18 000 farmers had taken part in planting trees and practising conservation farming methods over 7 000 ha of agricultural land for carbon offset credits.
“For this programme, beneficiaries stretched across nine chiefdoms and the money will be transferred directly to these communities,” he said.
Repairing soil and productivity
According to the World Bank, Eastern Province is one of the three poorest provinces in Zambia. Farmers also struggle to grow enough food after years of land degradation.
The World Bank-inspired programme encourages farmers in the area to plant trees and use a wide range of methods to increase organic matter in the soil. In the long term, this will improve the soil’s water absorption, nutrient supply and biodiversity, and help prevent erosion.
“Better soils raise farm yields, improving food security and make agriculture more resilient to climate change. Therefore, carbon credits create strong incentives for farmers to improve food security,” said Braimoh.
Provincial minister Makebi Zulu said the project is an inspiring example of how agricultural practices that improve the productivity and livelihoods of smallholder, subsistence farmers, can lift the area out of poverty.
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