Strategies for implementing Climate Smart Agriculture and creating marketable Greenhouse emission reduction credits, for small scale rice farmers in Asia

Monday, 15 December 2014
Richie Ahuja1, K. Kritee2, Joe Rudek1, Nguyen Van Sanh3 and Tran Thu Ha1, (1)Environmental Defense Fund New York, New York, NY, United States, (2)Environmental Defense Fund, International Climate, Boulder, CO, United States, (3)Mekong Delta Development Institute, Can Tho City, Vietnam
Industrial agriculture systems, mostly in developed and some emerging economies, are far different from the small holder farms that dot the landscapes in Asia and Africa. At Environmental Defense Fund, along with our partners from non-governmental, corporate, academic and government sectors and farmers, we have worked actively in India and Vietnam for the last four years to better understand how small scale farmers working on rice paddy (and other upland crops) cultivation can best deal with climate change. Some of the questions we have tried to answer are:
  • What types of implementable best practices, both old and new, on small farm systems lend themselves to improved yields, farm incomes, climate resilience and mitigation?
  •  Can these practices be replicated everywhere or is the change more landscape and people driven?
  • What are the institutional, cultural, financial and risk-perception related barriers that prevent scaling up of these practices? How do we innovate and overcome these barriers?

The research community needs to work more closely together and leverage multiple scientific, economic and policy disciplines to fully answer these questions. In the case of small farm systems, we find that it helps to follow certain steps if the climate-smart (or low carbon) farming programs are to succeed and the greenhouse credits generated are to be marketed:

  • Demographic data collection and plot demarcation 
  • Farmer networks and diaries 
  • Rigorous baseline determination via surveys
  • Alternative practice determination via consultation with local universities/experts
  • Measurements on representative plots for 3-4 years (including GHG emissions, yields, inputs, economic and environmental savings) to help calibrate biogeochemical models and/or calculate regional emission factors.
  • Propagation of alternative practices across the landscape via local NGOs/governments
  • Recording of parameters necessary to extrapolate representative plot GHG emission reductions to all farmers in a given landscape under several existing and new carbon offset methodologies.

In this presentation, we will discuss our initial encouraging results on the basis of which our wider team now seeks to identify and recommend policies that the local governments to be able to scale up climate smart agriculture to larger jurisdictional levels.