Use micro-credit incentives for rural farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural methods to mitigate climate change and environmental damage.
There are many off-the-shelf sustainable agricultural practices (SAP) of proven merit to reduce green house gas emissions, reduce environmental degradation, improve yields for impoverished rural farmers. Resistance to change can be overcome using access to micro-credit as an incentive to learn and use SAP. Integrating government, businesses, schools and NGOs can also integrate education / training for community service projects, practical job readiness training, internships, rural economic develop and building a stronger sense of community and civic responsibility as parts of this project.
Funding is based on monetizing the selected SAPs. For example, burning to clear land produces green house gases and air pollution with create mitigation costs. Farmers buy synthetic chemicals (often made from petro-chemicals) to grow their crops. If farmers mulched or composted crop and plant residuals (instead of burning), the nutrients recovered have value that decreases the need to buy chemical fertilizers. The reduced burning means less green house gases and air pollution. This produces costs savings in mitigation and remediation costs (e.g. medical bills). These savings could be reallocated to the micro-credit program for farmers.
Farmers applying for loans via this micro-credit program also have their applications assessed relative to the training and use of SAPs proportionally relevant to the magnitude of local green house gas emissions and the types and magnitude of environmental degradation.
Scaling up the program using the Rural Training Center-Thailand Community-based Education model’s Teach Back method.
This combination of micro-credit access and community-based education empowers small rural farmers to use local sustainable agricultural practices to become part of the global solution to mitigate climate change. The program is geared to be a sustainable effort in providing sustainable agricultural training / implementation and micro-credit to small rural farmers.
What actions do you propose?
Step 1: Inventory current local agricultural practices (traditional and recognized / proven sustainable practices) in an area relative to green house gas emissions and / or related local environmental degradation issues. This includes input from local farmers, government, and other interested groups. This inclusive and comprehensive view should help to clearly define the local problems in regional, national and global contexts. (It is anticipated that some of these complex issues involve geo-politics and other historical / cultural issues. However, the main idea is to give priority to the agricultural and environmental issues related to green house gas emissions and related environmental degradation.) This could be done using teachers / students in The Globe Program (www.globe.gov) or local schools.
Step 2: Quantify the negative and positive effects of each item in the inventory. Sustainable agricultural practices (S.A.P.) are given positive “points” relative to their proven ability to reduce green house gas emissions or reduce local environmental degradation. Rural farmers need to be made aware of these long-term benefits. These data will be used to create a set of weighting factors to help assess / approve micro-credit applications. Access to micro-credits linked to S.A.P. is an incentive for farmers to use S.A.P. The assumption is that increasing S.A.P. in a local area leads to long-term local agricultural and community viability. Farmer’s choosing to implement S.A.P. makes them be part of the solution to global climate change and combating global hunger.
Step 3: Monetize the negative and positive effects of each item in the inventory. This assumes two basic ideas: 1) negative practices result in “direct and indirect costs” to society, and 2) positive practices result in “direct and indirect savings” (lower costs to remedy the negatives) for society. Mitigation practices should make use of the Verified Carbon Standardwww.v_c_s.orgto develop a baseline for other studies. Funds resulting from savings to society would be used to fund the F2C2M program. Our assumption is no country has unlimited to funds. Reallocating funds is feasible IF it can be shown using S.A.P. in an area reduces costs. The allocation of the savings to fund the F2C2M micro-credit program encourages farmers to adopt and continue to use S.A.P... This in turn helps to reinforce the positive benefits of S.A.P.
Step 4. Create the F2C2M micro-credit program following the model of the Grameen Bank (with the some notable differences). (FFI: http://www.grameen-info.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19&Itemid=114 ). First, loan application assessment scoring includes weighting factors based on S.A.P. used by the loan applicant pertinent to reducing green house gas emissions and local environmental degradation. Interest rates could also be linked to S.A.P. usage (e.g. lower rates for increased uses of various S.A.P. methods).
Step 5. Develop a Generic Grant Proposal Template & Volunteer Grant Writing / Support Teams: Rural farmers lack the ability write grant proposals and necessary reports after receiving a grant. This expertise could come remotely from highly experienced volunteers via the Internet. The volunteers would be formed into two groups: grant writers/searchers and grant administrators. Local farmers would make ar request for assistance. The grant writing/search team would relevant grants and provide basic input data guidelines for the local farmers to submit in support of the proposal. When a grant is received, the grant administrator team would work with the local farmers to manage the grant.
Access to the F2C2M micro-credit program is the carrot to encourage farmers to learn and try S.A.P. The “ticket” for the application consists of:
- S.A.P. training certificates (relevant to the local environmental conditions). S.A.P. would be clustered to deal with local terrain / crop conditions. For example, in tropical hilly areas, composting and S.A.L.T. (Sloping Agricultural Land Techniques) might be the minimum required certificates.
- Verified “teach back” of S.A.P. to at least 5 farmers who lack S.A.P. certificates. It goes without saying the S.A.P. must match the conditions on a person’s farm. This helps assure the training will most likely be utilized.
- Verified implementation of S.A.P. on their farm or the land which they farm. S.A.P. trainers need to do follow-ups to provide accountability that trainees actually implement S.A.P. on the farm. The actual trainers needs to be determined, but should be local people. In addition to verification, the monitors should be prepared to mentor and nurture the S.A.P. farmers.
Scaling Up: The Training of Farmers
Additional F2C2M micro-credit assessment factors for can also be added when scaling up this program. Teach Backs are the prime mechanism for scaling up. For example, additional multipliers could be created. For example, after teaching back (training) S.A.P. to 5 other farmers, an individual farmer (a Seedling) can:
- Join a group of 5 farmers trained in S.A.P. to form a team (a Sapling) to implement S.A.P. on their farms. They form a mutual support team to reinforce and continue learning and to adapt S.A.P. locally. Activities range training individual farmers and promoting other team start-ups.
- A group of 5 teams (Saplings) forms a village group (a Nursery) implement S.A.P. In addition to the activities of the previous level, Nursery activities include to creating or expanding village markets and forming cooperatives to market to bigger buyers in nearby towns or cities.
- A group of 5 neighboring villages in a district or county (a Grove) implement S.A.P. In addition to activities of the two previous levels, Grove activities include creating or expanding district level markets and expand cooperative marketing efforts within the district between village cooperatives.
- a group of 5 neighboring districts or counties (a Woodland) implement S.A.P. Woodland activities focus on coordinating districts level markets and support expanding village cooperatives marketing efforts at a regional to national level. At this stage, the small rural farmers are effectively integrated into the system where national government agencies and large companies / corporations handle the farm produce from the rural areas.
School Room Training
Primary (Elementary) Schools
- Integrate S.A.P. as applied school lessons to expose students to multi-disciplinary learning models. This focus is to present real-world examples of using math, science, language, and technology. Hands-on, interactive learning with teach backs are used rather than the traditional lecture / written test approach. The school garden can be used to show side-by-side comparison / contrast of S.A.P. garden plots to traditional plots.
- Make community service projects an integral part of the school curriculum. Students work on a community project related to S.A.P. as a demonstration of the effectiveness of the methods. For example, students help create and maintain a garden for elderly/infirm/needy community members who have limited means. The produce helps support these community members and imparts a sense of community, compassion, and social responsibility to the students.
Secondary & Post-Secondary Schools
- Integrate S.A.P. with Secondary & Post-secondary education with an eye toward developing small rural enterprises. For example, a school organizes a community service project team to make SRI weeding tools. The team might consist of students studying business, mechanics, metal crafting, agriculture, and education. Relevant government officials and business members can be guest speakers. They could make students aware of relevant government policies and programs. Bankers could talk about local financial resources and programs.
The students work together.Each “specialist” contributes their “expertise” but is exposed to the needs / issues of the other specialists.This fosters “seeing the big picture”, learning about “trade-offs” and compromises, and working in a multi-disciplinary environment.This is realistic job readiness training.
- Use community-service projects to integrate schools to communities with an eye toward diffusing education and technology to the community. This can be done by taking the project mentioned above to involve local villagers (non-students). The school and a village (or group of villages) might engage in a matching agreement to support the project. The integrated student team pairs up with village members of similar interests / expertise. The goal is to implement the project in the village with students as the teachers. The students “teach back” to the villagers to verify and validate their education. The teachers monitor / nurture (mentor) the students but do not actually do the teaching. There should be periodic follow-ups to assess the project. This approach gives students real world experience and potential job contacts. Some students might return to their home villages after graduating and start a business. The villagers gain education / training not often available to them. The school does community outreach giving them an opportunity to recruit students / teachers, and to be relevant to the local community.
Scaling Up: F2C2M Funding Sources
The initial funds for the F2C2M micro-credit comes through international, government and private financial organizations and private sector businesses and NGOs.
- Primary Sources: The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations, and Asian Development Bank (among others) could include the establishment of an F2C2M micro-credit program as part of their funds distribution / aid plans to nations. This should be on a matching basis. The international funds match the national government budget cost savings realized by farmers implementing S.A.P. For poorer nations, options for “in-kind” match and / or “sweat equity” should be created to give them access to the program.
- Secondary Sources: Private Banks may want to tap into the micro-credit program as a matter of common business practice or due to government subsidies. Private sector businesses, (e.g. insurance companies) may realize cost savings due to lower claim filings as a result of S.A.P. They would be encouraged to donate a portion of their cost savings the F2C2M micro-credit program as an investment to reduce future loss payments.
- Tertiary Sources: Many NGOs are already involved in teaching and using S.A.P. They would be encouraged to participate to help qualify farmers for the F2C2M micro-credit program. This reduces the costs for governments to educate and train farmers in S.A.P. That cost savings could be added to funds for the F2C2M micro-credit program.
Another potential source of funding might be the rural enterprises created by the educational programs under the F2C2M program. Perhaps some proceeds from the businesses could be donated to support the program. In-kind opportunities could also be counted (e.g. internships, hiring preferences for S.A.P. trained graduates or educational scholarships for local students from the village of the business owner).
Who will take these actions?
Step 1: Inventory current local practices, green house gas emissions, and environmental degradation issues. Key players are:
- Local farmers, government leaders, environmentalists
- Government, educational, research, private sector agricultural, climate, environmental scientists and other concerned parties
Step 2: Quantify the negative and positive effects relative to green house gas emissions, and environmental degradation issues.
- Government, educational, research, private sector agricultural, climate, environmental scientists and other concerned parties
- International agricultural, climate, environmental scientists and other concerned parties
Step 3: Monetize the negative and positive effects relative to green house gas emissions, and environmental degradation issues in local market currency
- Government, banks, other relevant private sector interests
Step 4: Create the F2C2M micro-credit program
- Government, banks, other relevant private sector interests
- International monetary agencies (e.g. World Bank, IMF, ABD, UN, etc.)
Where will these actions be taken?
Southeast Asia might be a good starting place due to the high population density, high proportion of rural agriculturalists, and the common practice of clearing land with fire. There are places here which have implemented many successful sustainable agriculture programs. Screening for these areas which also have micro-credit programs in place could help jump start the program.
However, due to the multitude of key players, other regions / nations where project inputs are more readily available and organizations and collaboration opportunities eager self-select to undertake the project should be considered. The comprehensive integration of education and implementation of sustainable practices are critical to project success.
The selected area should have the essential pieces in place to allow for scaling up the program in progressive steps to test the model for replicating it elsewhere.
We firmly believe that self-selection is key to successful project implementation. Top-down government mandated programs often lack the grassroots enthusiasm and motivation critical to success adaptation and modification of longstanding traditional agricultural practices. Education is also critical both in sustainable agricultural practices and basic family finances.
This proposal strives to empower local grassroots community action through the sharing of information. Thus each local community can seek to implement a micro-credit access program linked to their locally relevant SAPs. Funding can come from a number sources, including grant writing.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
Undetermined at this time. A lot depends on the specific site for the project. The status quo would serve as the baseline for the project. Monitoring throughout the project duration would provide the answer to this question.
Left unchanged, the continued environmentally degrading practices will most likely lead to increased emissions due to population increase and the growing demand for clearing more forested land for agriculture.
This proposal is non-traditional as it is not geographically restricted to a location. Rather it is a grassroots program that can be initiated by any group of local farmers. As the agricultural practices vary widely, the amount of emissions also varies. Documentation can be accomplished by community-wide involvement and the active participation of local schools engaged in The Globe Programwww.globe.gov
What are other key benefits?
While reducing green house gas emissions is the primary goal, there are numerous additional benefits.
- Reducing environmental degradation (e.g. deforestation and watershed loss, soil erosion, loss of habitat and biodiversity among others)
- Enhancing local biodiversity by encouraging inter-cropping, companion planting, protecting native pollinator, tree planting, and protecting native species.
- Increasing soil quality, rainwater harvesting, soil water storage, and agricultural productivity giving rise to increased food security, improved local diets / nutrition / health, alleviating hunger)
- Improvements to society via education, local economic growth, improving family and rural community life by alleviating poverty.
What are the proposal’s costs?
Undetermined at this time. However, extensive data mining of current field research in nutrient losses by burning various crop residues, green house gas emissions from various agricultural practices, and climate related environmental degradation would reduce costs for the first three project steps.
Initial data mining costs could be further reduced if university student volunteers were recruited to perform the work as a class / community service project. Private sector research firms could be approached to grant employees release time to assist in mentoring students while conducting data analyses.
Government, NGO, and international organizations may have existing programs that can be readily aligned with various aspect of this project to reduce costs.
Existing micro-credit program might be modified to suit this project and greatly reduce start up time and expenses.
Depending on existing data sets and the alignment of the key players in the selected project area, the project time line could be as short as 3-5 years or longer. The more elements of the 4 basic steps that are in place, the shorter the project start up and implementation.
Initially, a single farmer or group can start the process to apply SAP. As their success spreads, more will follow. This could expand to the village, to neighboring villages, and to larger and larger adjacent areas. The process of geographic diffusion can occur at varying rates. We believe the process can be enhanced by increasing access to micro-credit directly linked to the application of SAPs.
However, this is NOT a one size-fits-all solution due to the wide variations in climate / micro-climate, topographic, soil, cultural practices, and government regulations (among the many variables involved). Also different locations / groups may be further along the 5 stages suggested in this proposal.
Think of this proposal as creating means for people to connect the dots of their local environmental problems to a wide array of successful SAPs (some of which are over their local horizon of awareness). Once the dots are connected, micro-credit helps local farmers to implement the relevant SAPs to put them on the road to reducing emissions and being better able to support their families.
Funding Farmer's for Climate Change Mitigation could be linked to jan-k's proposal (contestID/1300210/plan ID/1308202) Settle the Carbon Debt and Release the Power of Example.
Perhaps the "accounting" of the Debt Forgiveness could factor in the cost of the micro-credit program as proof positive a country was actively taking steps to mitigate climate change.
Another possible link: (contestID/1300205/planID/1305321) Global 4C: Managing Land for Carbon Sequestration with Smart Money. Farmers participating in SAPs linked to Global 4C guidelines could have another source of income.
Note: To see the current version RTC-TH discussion paper on F2C2M, please visit http://www.neighborhoodlink.com/RTC-TH_Tech/pages This may list even more Sustainable Agricultural Practices for possible consideration
Rural Training Center Thailand Community-based Education
The Globe Program
Biologically Integrated Farm Systems (BIFS)
Drip / Micro-drip Irrigation
Effective Micro-organisms (EM)
Fukuoka Natural Farming
Indigenous Micro-organisms (IMO)
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Sloping Agriculture Land Technology (SALT)
Soil Storage and Infiltration Systems
http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/hawaiirain/Library/papers/Mechell_Justin.pdf0/ 3000 characters
System of Rice Intensification (SRI)