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Find out how farmers' in Tanzania can sequester more carbon than 175,000 cars produce in a year. A collaboration between CARE, ICRAF and FAO.

28/02/2017

According to FAO, roughly 2,000 farmers in Tanzania were able to save as many tons of carbon as getting nearly 175,000 cars of the road for a year. How? By using conservation agriculture—and planting more diverse crops, like beans and sesame seeds. And the benefits to the environment weren’t the only advantage. Farmers also earned another 6 months’ worth of income because of doubled yields.

With funding from Denmark, CARE Tanzania’s Hillside Conservation Agriculture Project partnered with FAO’s Mitigating Climate Change in Agriculture project and ICRAF. They worked with farmers from 2008 to 2014 to promote conservation agriculture to improve food security outcomes and reduce the environmental impact of climate change.

What did we accomplish?

  • Doubled yields: Using the improved methods, farmers were able to double yields on crops like maize and beans relative to people who didn’t participate in the project.
  • Improved incomes by 50%: Farmers told us that they earned an extra $40 per year on income from their agricultural yields. That’s an additional 6 months of income for famers in the program. It’s also 33% higher income than farmers who weren’t in the project.
  • Provided more, better food for families: farmers told us they were able to field their families more meals a day, and more days of the year than they could before the project.
  • Built businesses: 25% of farmers in the program used their extra produce and income to invest in businesses like restaurants and shops.
  • Reduced carbon emissions: According to FAO’s projections, the project will help sequester 827,396 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere relative to baseline. That’s as much as nearly 2 million barrels of oil saved, or 175,000 cars fewer on the road in a year.

How did we get there?

  • Teach farmers: the project worked through 58 Farmers Field Schools and 37 VSLAs to teach 1,906 farmers improved practices for their fields.
  • Demonstrate success: 84% of farmers adopted at least one practice, and many of them said that they were motivated to change after seeing their peers improve yields with the new practices.
  • Build from farmers’ motivations: Farmers told us the reason they adopt the practices is to improve yields and income. So we need to make sure that any techniques we introduce can do that as well as improving the environment. One without the other is a much harder sell.
  • Give farmers a platform: The biggest need farmers’ identified from the program was wanting more information so that they could teach others more effectively. They want to spread what they have learned to help their entire communities.

Want to Learn more?
There’s lots of great documentation on this one. Check out FAO’s Socio-economic survey and Climate Mitigation Potential report. The project was also featured as a Best Practice by the International Center for Climate Governance.
Plus, here's a fun tool for calculating what tons of carbon sequestered actually mean in real life.