reNature’s position in the ecosystem
Published on: May 4, 2020
Bringing the right actors together
The world of regenerative farming is a complex one, just like a diverse agroforestry system itself. With growing attention for the underlying problems of current forms of land use, a variety of actors and organizations are increasingly popping up, tackling these issues from different angles and with different solutions.
In a seemingly chaotic maze of technological niches, commercial and non-profit actors, all – or most – of these players and philosophies work towards the same goal: To rethink the way we use land in a way that benefits nature, farmers, and consumers at the same time.
As reNature, we have the ability to bring these actors and movements together, unify action and, thereby, scale impact. This blogpost explains where we position ourselves within the global community. It depicts the wide range of actors in the sector as well as how we connect them to best deliver impact and satisfy the demands of our partners.
The bottom line: Farmers and communities
Globally, farmers and their communities are facing challenges: In China and India, fertile topsoil is lost up to 40 times faster than it can replenish while in sub-Saharan Africa, desertification is threatening the yields – and food security – of millions of subsistence farmers. In the export-reliant agricultural market of the US, farmer bankruptcies are currently increasing drastically while farm debts are estimated to be at a record high. All this happens under the looming and growing shadow of climate change.
In countries where the agricultural sector occupies large shares of the labor force, entire communities are reliant on the performance of the local farms which provide food, ecosystem services as well as economic opportunity.
Although these detriments may be subject to a variety of different drivers, it is obvious that something has to change. As the very producers of our most important resources, the channels through which we define how to use land, and as major determinants in the fight against climate change and the destruction of nature, farmers should be at the center of our attention.
At reNature, we experience that there is an astounding number of farmers globally that intend to change their practices. There is a demand for a new type of agriculture that reduces input costs and the farmers’ debts while producing enough food and generating sufficient income. Growers are searching for new ways to farm that harmonize with nature instead of exploiting it. Further, agricultural systems need to become more resilient to the growing impacts of climate change.
Connecting research and farming experience
What is often lacking is the awareness about the existence of alternative approaches as well as the knowledge and capacities on how to implement them. This is where reNature comes in.
At reNature, we have committed ourselves to making the link between farmers and science, whilst bringing together practical experience and research. Through our website, farmers and organizations can submit their projects by filling in a form providing us with all relevant information around it. We are then able to evaluate which specific expertise is needed.
Through our network, we can bring a wide range of research organizations and agroforestry experts to the table. What follows is what we call a “participatory approach”. Local knowledge and experience from farmers and communities are closely incorporated, whilst we tap into the extensive expertise brought in by our experts. The results are innovative, hands-on solutions that are adapted to the local context.
Facilitating impactful investments
Another important component is funding. Converting to a new farming system comes at costs. These are not only costs for farm inputs and materials such as seedlings or machinery but also personnel costs, travel costs as well as the costs for knowledge and services such as those of our experts.
As it is often a challenge for farmers to cover these costs, reNature has established a mechanism to facilitate much-needed funding. Visualized as the second circle around our organization, is our network of actors that help us to fill this gap.
It is our conviction that the Regenerative Agroforestry transition will only succeed if all sides of the spectrum benefit. Our projects are not only commercially viable for farmers but also meaningful for funders and increasingly designed to deliver financial returns to investors. As societies, as well as governments and private institutions, are acknowledging the need for change, we intend to provide them with the platform through which they can channel positive impact.
Following this strategy, reNature offers projects going beyond singular outcomes but addressing a wide range of positive effects on the socio-economic as well as environmental level. This enables us to provide valuable opportunities for impact investors, funds, philanthropy, carbon offsetting as well as public initiatives: A win-win situation.
Integrating agroforestry in commodity value-chains
Linking back to our ecosystem positioning, there is one important component that has not yet been mentioned: The buyers, traders, and retailers. These are actors that buy or produce agricultural commodities in production units belonging to their value chain to be further processed or sold directly.
Contrasting many beliefs, Regenerative Agroforestry is a viable production model not only able to improve a corporation’s CSR practices but also ensure its supply of commodities. It can be applied to large scales, managed efficiently with the help of heavy machinery.
This enables reNature to offer our services as a social enterprise to buyers, traders, and retailers not only to “green” production processes but to stabilize yields and, therefore commodity streams. We help companies to establish practices that prepare and adapt their sourcing units to the effects of climate change while greatly improving their impact on people and the environment. This way, benefits reach throughout the value chain serving farmers, buyers, retailers, and ultimately the customer.
Our Indonesian project with Verstegen Spices, focused on the commercial production of white pepper, showcases such a relationship.
Making a significant impact in the agricultural sector requires innovative solutions. In a sector that is characterized by transnational value chains, these have to be applicable on large scales and in a variety of different countries.
On the other hand, they need to be flexible and adaptive to local circumstances taking into account differences in local knowledge, culture, soil, farming traditions, cultures, vegetation, and the micro-climate. Regenerative Agroforestry provides us with this solution, whilst always following the same principles but taking different shapes in every local context.
At reNature, we strongly believe in the power of collaboration. Creating a network of different actors enables us to tap into the right expertise or resources when needed, whilst connecting the local and global. Linking farmers and their experience to the funding of banks, the knowledge of universities, and the value chains of international food retailers accelerates impact and empowers us to work towards our goal: Making Regenerative Agroforestry mainstream.