Researching financial opportunities for smallholders in transition
Published on: July 15, 2020
Marcela Flores is developing a SAP for reNature to incentivize 5 smallholder farmers to transition to Regenerative Agriculture through accessing new financing mechanisms.
Marcela Flores, researcher in regenerative food systems, has entered a partnership with reNature to accelerate the regenerative agriculture and agroforestry transition. Marcela is currently further developing her expertise by studying at the University of Cambridge, the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university.
Researching regenerative ag scaling strategies
In line with Cambridge’s focus on creating a sustainable Earth, Marcela Flores partnered up with reNature to research the most feasible strategies to upscale regenerative agroforestry and agriculture. reNature’s vision is to regenerate 1 million hectares of degraded land through agroforestry by 2030, while ensuring food security for 10 million farmers and local communities. Marcela has now conducted a study on how to best reach this goal.
The outcome is an in-depth review of the regenerative industry, its players, and important recent developments. Further, the work provides key findings derived from desk research as well as interviews with other relevant organizations and companies.
Pilot plots, knowledge sharing, and carbon farming
Marcela’s report outlines the roles of different stakeholders in taking regenerative agriculture to the next level. Farmer willingness to participate in regenerative practices is at the core and requires opportunities for inspiration, learning, and knowledge creation. Linked to that is the role of offtakers and governments that need to incentivize the transition. Lastly, technology and finance are vital to support the move to innovative practices.
Ultimately, the report culminates in key lessons translating into direct recommendations. It highlights the importance of demonstration plots, preferably on-site – visible for the farmers, long-term knowledge sharing, and the exploration of the carbon market. Moreover, it emphasizes the role of ongoing monitoring and evaluation to assess and the impact of regenerative practices as compared to conventional.
At reNature, we have made similar experiences. That is why we have set up our Model Farm and Model School services which now put us in an excellent position to further support farmer learning, capacity-building, and knowledge creation. Further, we have been actively engaging offtakers and the finance sector to involve these important players and will continue to do so in the future.
However, we do not claim to have it all figured out. We, as well as many other actors in the regenerative movement, are at the beginning of a learning journey with a lot of questions yet to be answered. That is why we are continuously working on improving our framework for assessing the impact of our projects, for example. Collecting data regarding the climate benefits, biodiversity effects, livelihood impacts and the profitability of our farming systems is essential to maximize positive impact and further drive the transition to regenerative practices.
Enabling farmer access to carbon markets
Additional to the aforementioned report, Marcela will put up a Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for enabling regenerative farmers to access financing through the carbon market.
The aim is to enable farmers that are willing to adopt or already apply climate-positive, regenerative farming practices to utilize the financial opportunities that carbon offset markets and AgTech platforms offer. Remote smallholder farmers often find themselves in positions that inhibit their participation in those markets. Moving away from conventional farming practices often comes with initial costs and a period of uncertainty, especially for less well-off farmers. Democratizing the carbon market providing them access to it could be a valuable cure.