How do we simultaneously preserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior? Rainforest Alliance (RA) do this by promoting best practices actively up and down many global supply chains. In fact, the main crops certified Rainforest Alliance have grown rapidly in the last 10 years – going from niche to mainstream – 5% of the world’s coffee, 10% cocoa, tea 11.5% and 21% of the exported bananas are certified RA.
This represents nearly 1 million farmers and 3 million acres of farmland. In addition, the AR has helped preserve more than 75 million hectares of forests around the world according to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
So how climate-smart agriculture (CSA) fits into the picture?
We see CSA as a set of strategies that aim to increase the productivity and resilience at farm and community, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases or increase sequestration, and cope with the pressures and risks to the media farmers life posed by climate change. Because the people who depend heavily on agriculture and natural resources as part of their livelihoods are disproportionately affected by climate change, see CSA as a necessity. Increasingly, our work with local communities and businesses will have to help farmers and entire supply chains, become more resilient and adapt to climate change.
But what makes our little frog to accomplish this?
Neither approach, either focusing on climate change mitigation or focus on increasing adaptive capacity, can meet the difficult task expected of CSA. By definition climate intelligent agriculture be integrated, according to a series of interlocking strategies. The Rainforest Alliance is found only in products that meet the rigorous standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). This in turn encourages farms to analyze and thereby reduce the environmental and social risks caused by agricultural activities through a process that also encourages continuous improvement, and forms a basis for CSA.
Many of the RAS criteria necessary for certification and promotion practices of CSA, and can be improved through the aggregation voluntary Climate Module. Soil and water conservation or diversification of crops in agroforestry shade reduce the risks of climate change impacts. Shade cover and protection for forests and natural ecosystems, reduce emissions, as well as improving the efficient use of agricultural inputs. With the rules of the RAS is being revised to strengthen the climate criteria, we expect the RA certification will further contribute to a comprehensive and holistic approach to CSA in the coming years.
Can certified farms expand to create sustainable landscapes?
By focusing on the entire value chain, the Rainforest Alliance model is to create sustainable landscapes, leveraging the power of market transformation. By involving the major food companies that make commitments to increase supply climate smart, sustainable throughout their supply chains products, the number of farmers participating in a given source can jump from a few hundred to a few hundred of thousands. When these producers are adopting best practices in climate change adaptation and mitigation and spread widely across a landscape, then interventions including climate-smart practices can lead to impacts at the landscape level.
An example of a landscape approach to CSA
The landscape project Juabeso-Bia Ghana is a new program in Ghana that is emphasizing improved agroforestry systems cocoa production through the interests of the certification chain and supply. This landscape approach being tested to mitigate the business risk of the cocoa value chain, in order to ensure that practices to climate smart farm level are scaled and replicated through a growing group of farms for the 36,000-acre landscape is finally following the best practices of similar management. The project was a partnership between Olam International, Rainforest Alliance, USAID, NORAD, and thousands of farmers.
For the farmer, the benefits have been the technical assistance that enhances the ability of farms to adopt best practices for climate change mitigation and adaptation, allowing the transition to climate-smart agriculture and greater resilience of the agricultural ecosystem . For Olam, this gave him the opportunity to bring climate-friendly cocoa market and build your reputation as an active ‘first-mover’. Other benefits may include strengthening the supply chain resistance enabling communities to gain understanding of the concepts of sustainable management of a landscape rather than a single farm and also to break the link between cocoa production and deforestation. This should also lead to lower overall operational risks due to climate change and resource security and wider exercise to change and improve overall corporate learning programs. And help producers comply with SAN standards for climate mitigation, verifiable means to achieve quantifiable reductions in GHG carbon footprint of the supply chain are possible.
Training of farmers and climate education in communities was the focus of the activities. As part of this, a suitable climate smart agriculture cacao guide was developed to help farmers to assess the potential risks of climate change, and to learn ways of adaptation and mitigation practices on the farm and in the community, and to SAN prepare for certification. Reforestation of land and workshops on establishing diverse livelihood opportunities (eg, beekeeping and raising grasscutter) degraded already underway.
Certification standards RAS has led to an increase in yields, I expected to continue in the long term. These Rainforest Alliance Certified farms have also been verified to comply SAN Climate Module, becoming the first RA cocoa climate smart. With the practices of sustainable cocoa farming and on-site management and continuous improvement and expansion, the benefits of the natural landscape are manifold. New technologies, such as tablets, have helped collect data at the landscape level and also played a crucial role in the preparation of the project document (PDD) in the Community, Climate and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS). Using the CCBS has been a way of quantifying how certification practices can improve both the benefits of climate and livelihoods.
With the success of the work in Ghana, Rainforest Alliance is looking to expand this approach to other landscapes. By replicating the approach and lessons learned we hope to use our experience and relationships to mobilize government institutions and policies to establish or strengthen conditions favorable for farmers to acquire new technologies conditions, investment and infrastructure.
At the same time, we have to continue working for the education of consumers through our information and take learning forward in communications that raise awareness from the producer to the consumer.