Article / Cattle / Climate Change / Dairying / East Africa / ILRI / Kenya / PIL

Dairy goes green: New tool will enable smallholders to swap GHG emission reductions for carbon credits

Dairy cow in Embu, Kenya

Dairy cow in Embu, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

By unlocking carbon credit markets,
first-of-its-kind methodology looks
to boost financing for smallholder farms,
green the livestock sector

The new dairy methodology
is a key to allowing smallholder dairy operations
to receive internationally accepted carbon credits
in exchange for emission reductions.

‘The dairy sector will soon be able to participate in international carbon credit markets thanks to a new methodology that lets farmers and project designers reliably document how they are reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions—a step that will open up new sources of finance for the livestock industry and help promote investment in smallholder operations.

‘FAO’s new Smallholder dairy methodology tackles two major challenges facing agriculture today: the need to make agriculture more productive by increasing yields, while at the same time cutting agriculture’s carbon footprint. By opening up new sources of finance, the methodology addresses the critical question of how to finance the necessary transition to a greener livestock sector.

‘The new methodology, developed by FAO and partners, for the first time clearly identifies areas within dairy production where greenhouse emissions can be curbed—for example, by changing feed composition or feeding practices, or improving the energy efficiency of equipment—and explains how those reductions can be measured and reported. . . .

Investing in ways to make smallholder dairy systems more productive is an efficient way to simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure food security.

This methodology will help to channel finance to projects that have real impacts on the livelihoods of millions of smallholder dairy farmers.

Milk production will have to grow by 144 million tonnes by 2025 to meet rising demands.

Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information, Sector Analysis and Policy Branch

‘Strategic changes in housing and feeding animals, in managing their manure and selecting breeds that produce more milk with equal inputs, hold the key to meeting those demands with the least possible environmental damage. . . .

‘In Kenya, which served as developing ground for the new tool, the methodology is already part of the country’s effort to sustainably intensify its dairy industry under the country’s climate action plan. . . .

‘With the new tool the Kenyan government is able to track, quantify and certify that its interventions indeed result in lower emission intensity—in other words, fewer greenhouses gasses per unit of milk. This is essential for involving the dairy sector in the country’s international climate commitments and has allowed Kenya to extend its Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action to the dairy sector.

‘There are additional benefits, beyond emissions reductions as well. For smallholder dairy farmers—some 750 million around the world—changes at the farm level that increase milk yield also bring stronger food security and more income. Increased investment in agriculture also tends to drive development of rural areas at large. . . .

‘A great deal of attention will be dedicated at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22) to  finding innovative ways to fund climate adaptation and mitigation work and make good on the commitments made under the Paris Climate Treaty, making this new tool particularly relevant.’

The new methodology was developed by FAO in partnership with
the International Livestock Research Institute,
the State Department of Livestock in Kenya,
Unique Forestry and Land Use,
and Climate Check Corporation.

Read the whole FAO news item: New tool opens world of climate finance to dairy sector, 4 Nov 2016.

Download the methodology, published by FAO and ILRI: Smallholder Dairy Methodology: Draft methodology for quantification of GHG emission reductions from improved management in smallholder dairy production systems using a standardized baseline, 2016.

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