Central American farmers join carbon trading

September 3, 2013

Organic Farmers in Guatemala are positioning themselves to benefit from the carbon markets. The Educational Cooperation for Costa Rican Development (CEDECO) has succeeded in establishing the first link between a small organic farmer organization and the voluntary carbon market.

Since 2003, with the support of Hivos, CEDECO has run a research project to ascertain the positive contribution of organic farms to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration in the soil. Under a method called Cam(Bio)2, CEDECO helps small-scale organic coffee producers measure and market their ‘environmental services’.

The first carbon credits, based on the Cam(bio)2 methodology, are available in Cero CO2 a pioneer online platform in the measurement, reduction and compensation of carbon footprints. Through this platform, businesses, events or people worldwide, can purchase offsets to fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG).

The projects supported by Cam(Bio)2 available in Cero CO2  for carbon trading are two coffee farmers cooperatives located in the Nahualá department, in the southwest of Guatemala. Nahualá Cooperative was formed to address extreme poverty and improve the position of small-scale subsistence farmers. It is the umbrella for 224 organic coffee farmers (157 men and 67 women) who cultivate less than half a hectare of land on average. Producers are now diversifying their products with organic bananas.

Renacimiento Cooperative is the other project supported by Cam(Bio)2. It was established in 1987 with the aim of improving the living conditions of the people in Sololá, Guatemala. The cooperative is made up of 77 indigenous coffee growers. Both cooperatives are part of the Guatemalan Specialty Coffee Trade Federation (Federación Comercializadora de Café Especial de Guatemala) a second level cooperative for 1943 farmers belonging to 12 small coffee grower cooperatives.

Climate change effects

The effects of climate change are being felt everywhere around the world, yet smallholders in developing countries are the most vulnerable group. Last year, Central American coffee plantations were affected by coffee rust, a plant disease that blighted a significant percentage of the regional crop.

The sale of the carbon credits will help implement a plan to improve farming methods (better use of organic fertilizer, pruning and management of coffee plantations) and the creation of income-generating activities such as bio ferments plants and organic fertilizers. These actions seek to empower 1,500 members of indigenous communities.

CEDECO and their Cam(Bio)2  method is part of the Latin America Climate & Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (LACSAI). With the support of Hivos, LACSAI aims to develop climate change adaptation and mitigation measures that can be undertaken by small-scale producers