Scaling Up Agroforestry - Carbon Markets & Beyond

Scaling-up Agroforestry Efforts – Carbon Markets & Beyond

This article is in continuation to the discussion with Mr. Sameer S on how SayTrees’ Agroforestry journey has shaped over the years and what path lies ahead for us to impact 10mn farm households -

SayTrees kicked off as a volunteering organisation focusing on tree plantation in Urban Areas and culminated into a full-time movement in 2013 as an entity to enable environmental conservation initiatives across the country. The early focus was on creating urban green zones, promoting awareness, and involving citizens in climate action.

While we understand that all lives are day-in and day-out impacted by the vagaries of climate change, importantly, rural communities, especially farmer households, are at the forefront of climate-induced vulnerability. And here lies the need and utmost urgency to support them in the journey of climate-proofing farm livelihoods.

In 2016, SayTrees ventured into rural & tribal areas to plant trees on the farmlands with individual farmers to enhance their resilience to climate change. Started with a handful of farmers in the Kadiri region of Andhra Pradesh, where the intervention was limited to providing saplings requested by the farmers.

The distribution of trees as an entry point allowed us to spend more time with the farming communities and understand deeper into the nuances of tree plantation on the farmlands. Gradually we moved from tree distribution to tree growing to conservation efforts to enhancing livelihoods – climate-proofing farm livelihoods.

We believe that this is possible by developing farmer-centric localised interventions – through the adoption of multi-layer integrated agroforestry models and transition towards chemical-free agricultural practices supported over a period of 4-5 years.

These efforts were actualised on the ground largely with support from the CSR fraternity. Over time, the funding methods started drifting towards carbon financing. Parallelly, the markets also sensed the scale and potential of Agroforestry as one of the mechanisms to fulfill their carbon neutrality plans. This led to the layering of carbon offset as an additional impact indicator under consideration for any Agroforestry intervention.

This change in the market-driven funding mechanism triggered us to learn, understand and decode the carbon market mechanisms through -
• Reading and understanding similar projects
• Training key team members and field partners on carbon market mechanisms with support from market experts
• At the same time, we received more requests for large-scale agroforestry interventions funded through carbon offset investments
• To our surprise, we submitted proposals worth over Rs. 700 crores, and this phase has helped us to understand the market behavior more in detail. As the investors/donors are also testing the waters in Indian geography, they are taking more time (early days for both demand and supply). As a result, we are waiting to receive a positive response from at least one investor.

In the backdrop of this journey, we also initiated small-scale interventions supported through carbon/sustainable financing

For these initiatives to be a win-win for the investor and the farmers, some questions need further discussions and deliberations with diverse stakeholders involved across the spectrum.

If understood and planned well, can Carbon/Sustainable financing be a catalyst to reach and support more farmers? At the same time, we should parallelly explore new financing instruments beyond carbon markets to make farming climate resilient.

Looking forward to discussing and learning from other partners traversing through a similar journey. In the next article, let’s understand how cost economics works for 10000 ha of intervention support through carbon financing.

Team @SayTrees @Durgesh.A @VarunB
Agroforestry - SayTrees.pdf (2.5 MB)