About 60,000 farmers in Western Kenya have benefitted from carbon credits. This is through the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project that supports farming that is more productive, sustainable and climate-friendly by using improved farming techniques. World Bank Country Director for Kenya , Diarietou Gaye, said this is an inspiring example of how agricultural practices that improve the productivity and livelihoods of smallholder, subsistence farmers can also be climate-smart. "These are the first credits to be issued under the sustainable agricultural land management carbon accounting methodology. After years of land degradation, many farmers struggled to grow enough food for their families. They are now using a wide range of methods to increase the organic matter in soils which should improve the soil's water absorption, nutrient supply, biodiversity and help prevent erosion in the long term. Better soils raise farm yields, improving food security and making agriculture more resilient to climate change," said Gaye in a statement. CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in East Africa regional programme leader, Dr James Kinyangi , says agriculture contributes 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, with 17 per cent directly emitted from farming practices such as tillage, harvesting and burning of biomass among others and 13 per cent from the change of land use such as forest land to agriculture use. "If you look at the changing agricultural practices due to the many smallholder farmers in Kenya and Africa , the emission of GHG is rather big," said Kinyangi. The project issued its first carbon credits under the Verified Carbon Standard for sequestering carbon in soil. About 110 acres of land have been involved in the project and this represents a reduction of 24,788 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to emissions from 5,164 vehicles in a year, Swedish NGO, Vi Agroforestry, is implementing the project in Kenya with support from the World Bank's BioCarbon Fund , French Development Agency and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture . The fund will purchase a part of the carbon credits generated by the project by 2017 at an estimated cost of Sh51 million. "This project demonstrates synergies between climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in agriculture. Carbon credits are creating a revenue stream that enhances the extension services provided to farmers, which are critical to the adoption of these practices and also adds to farmers' income beyond their increased crop yields. This also improves their food security, which is now more important than ever given the vulnerability to climate change," Gaye said. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation , improved agricultural practices can help mitigate climate change by reducing emissions from agriculture and other sources and by storing carbon in plant biomass and soils. "The development of agriculture during past centuries and particularly in last decades has entailed depletion of substantive soil carbon stocks created through long-term evolution. Agricultural soils are among the planet's largest reservoirs of carbon and hold potential for expanded carbon sequestration and thus provide a prospective way of mitigating the increasing atmospheric concentration of CO2," says the UN agency.
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