AIR Institute coordinates the FARMS4CLIMATE project: Smart governance and operational models for agroecological carbon farming. The main ambition of the FARMS4CLIMATE consortium is making carbon farming operational for smallholders. This will be made possible by the ad hoc development of a number of digital enablers, including the creation of a ready-to-market C credit platform, smart tools to monitor, report and validate the various C pools at the farm level, a system to account and exchange C credits along the value chain and, short distribution chains where the differential value propositions are based on virtuous C management.
Importantly, FARMS4CLIMATE understands that technologies alone are not sufficient for effectively transforming agrosystems. For this reason, the consortium proposes a strategy for transformation that includes four elements: 1) a “change element”, which in this case will be a specific regenerative agricultural practice with demonstrated economic benefits as well as C sequestration capacity; 2) a “change agent”, a sustainable farmer (and demo site holder) committed to show the path forward; 3) a bottom-up approach that can involve stakeholders from the early stages, which is a living lab programme designed for inspiration and; 4) a multi-actor approach to align visions and interests, which is already evident from the consortium’ structure that includes farmers, farming organizations, agronomic research centres, developer and digital data analysts as well as international public institutions.
The FARMS4CLIMATE consortium will execute living labs with such a strategic approach in five different Mediterranean locations (two in Italy, one in Egypt, one in Tunisia and, one in Spain). Each programme will focus on a specific regenerative practice, aiming at creating five Community Based Organizations (CBOs) that can drive economic growth by flagshipping virtuous carbon management embedded into agroecological principles and thanks to frugal innovations. The consortium will provide the necessary knowledge and tools for the CBOs to autonomously determining their action plan, which will aim at enhancing farming profitability for smallholders by: 1) offering a method to differentiate products (i.e. carbon negative) and therefore obtain higher margins; 2) generate multiple revenue streams (i.e. carbon offsetting, increasing tourism); 3) recognising the role of women in the economic cycle; 4) digitally enable resources and knowledge sharing; 5) simplify market access through harvest pooling and the promotion of short distribution chains; 6) pave the way for localized economies of scale to emerge. At the same time, FARMS4CLIMATE will enhance resilience and environmental sustainability by: i) promoting the transition from high-input to biodiversity-based farming models; ii) disseminate a toolbox for agroforestry and organic management specific for Mediterranean smallholders; iii) improve resource usage in agrosystems, with a particular focus on water; iv) prevent soil degradation by erosion and losses of organic matter.
Finally, the consortium believes that providing CBOs with higher purposes, such as those related with the urgent need to tackle climate issues while defending farmers’ income, will facilitate stakeholders alignment and operational activation. For this reason, the Living labs will be impregnated with concepts and real-life examples deriving from the agroecological principles, the 4Returns model and the Economy of Love, while focusing on gender-transformative dynamics that embed gender norms in innovation processes. Through this project, FARMS4CLIMATE aims at kick starting CDOs that can successfully exploit the consortium’s enabling innovations in order to generate solid business cases. Our ambition is that these success stories will contribute to inspire the sustainable, carbon farming-based transformation of agrosystems across the Mediterrean and beyond.
PRIMA-MED (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area)
PRIMA Programme is supported by the European Union
This project is part of the PRIMA Programme supported by the European Union