Monitoring Climate-Smart Agriculture’s Triple Wins: The Power of Knowledge Sharing | World Bank Institute (WBI)

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • An innovative carbon accounting methodology - Sustainable Agriculture Land Management (SALM) - was approved by the Voluntary Carbon Standards (VCS) and validated in Kenya.
  • SALM allows access of smallholder farmers in developing countries to carbon markets.
  • The Sustainable Agriculture Land Management (SALM): Soil Carbon Accounting and Monitoring is an innovative e-learning course that demonstrates how climate-smart agriculture (CSA) can be achieved through SALM, and how soil carbon can be monitored and accounted for in a simple and practical way to benefit CSA farmers. 
(c) World Bank
Kenyan farmer, Maurice Odhiambo, tells training participants what he was able to achieve under the SALM project.

January 8, 2014―An innovative carbon accounting methodology - Sustainable Agriculture Land Management (SALM) - was approved by the Voluntary Carbon Standards (VCS) and validated in Kenya. SALM allows smallholder farmers in developing countries to benefit directly from the carbon market. Here’s how a new e-learning course is helping share this knowledge across all the regions.

The World Bank Institute’s Climate Change Practice (WBICC) and the World Bank’s Bio Carbon Fund (BioCF) jointly developed an e-learning course on Sustainable Agriculture Land Management (SALM): Soil Carbon Accounting and Monitoring. The innovative course demonstrates how climate-smart agriculture (CSA) can be achieved through SALM and how soil carbon can be monitored and accounted for in a simple and practical way to benefit CSA farmers, especially smallholder farmers in developing countries. The course was launched on November 18 – December 6, 2013. Over 360 people participated.

An interview with the course director, Dr. Mei Xie, who led the production and delivery of the course in the WBI, provides some further insight.

Q. How does agriculture play a role in mitigating climate change impact?

A. Globally, agriculture is drawing increased attention in the discussion on climate change and impact. Agriculture is impacted by the warming temperature and the subsequent increase in climate variability. Also there is need to build climate change resilience in the way we grow crops and ensure food security for billions, especially the poor. Agriculture has a unique feature in its relation to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – it is responsible for a significant amount of global GHG emissions. Also, it can, uniquely, take GHG and fix them into soils and plants while addressing food security and increasing soil fertility, i.e, it can sequester carbon, through climate-smart agriculture (CSA). That is why you hear more and more about CSA, and the World Bank Group is working on building global CSA alliances.

Q What’s new about this course?

A. Several features are new. First, agriculture has largely been excluded from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) related carbon projects. As a result, there has been a lack of effective carbon accounting methodology when it comes to accounting for soil carbon in agricultural projects that involve many smallholder farmers in diversified landscapes and cropping systems. Therefore, this new SALM accounting methodology for soil carbon in sustainable agricultural land management projects is like a breath of fresh air. It allows access of smallholder farmers to carbon markets. Second, until now there has not been a systematic learning package on this topic. The course uses interactive and engaging ways to share new knowledge and practical experience. One participant wrote this in his evaluation: I have taken 35 e-Courses from world class institutions. This course is one of a kind. Never before. Thank you.

Q. So, how did the SALM carbon accounting methodology come about?

A. A few years ago, the World Bank BioCarbon fund initiated the idea, and worked with the Africa region of the World Bank to develop carbon monitoring and accounting for diversified farming systems. They wanted the methodology to be robust yet simple enough for wide application. They worked with stakeholders and farmers in Kenya to illustrate how Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices could effectively contribute to improving agricultural production and soil fertility at the same time, which in turn, help sequester carbon. All of these efforts benefited smallholder farmers. In 2011, the new carbon accounting methodology - Sustainable Agriculture Land Management (SALM) - was approved by the VCS, and in 2012 the methodology was validated in Kenya and allowed smallholder farmers in a developing country to benefit directly from the carbon market - the first in the world and it was truly innovative.

Q. How does WBICC contribute to this initiative?

A. Since 2010, WBICC, under the Carbon Finance-Assist trust fund, has supported this initiative in Kenya. From 2011, I started working with the BioCarbon Fund team to develop a training package. Few people knew about the SALM accounting methodology, let alone how to apply it. CSA was also a relatively new concept to many. To scale up, there must be a critical mass of people who know about it, and have the required knowledge and skills to share with others. So, we thought - why not develop an e-Course to start with, and launch it through the World Bank’s e-Institute! 
 open-quotesThe course has been very helpful to me. It has broadened my understanding of climate smart agriculture and carbon monitoring. I have developed better ideas on how I can support the farmers in my country to improve productivity in the face of climate change.close-quotesCourse participant
Q. What was your experience in developing an e-learning course such as this?  

A. It was a challenging but fun learning journey for our team. The methodology is new and the subject is technical. But we wanted non-technical people to be able to understand it, too. We wanted the course to be practical so that people who work on agriculture and landscape management can apply it in their countries and projects. 

We wanted the course to be of high quality – in terms of content, design and visual production. People should enjoy learning and have fun. It has not been easy, I must say. We modified the learning pedagogy and module design. We scrutinized each narration sentence for its logic and necessity. We can further improve the quality of the course, and we plan to update the course as more countries apply the methodology. 

Q. What did participants say about the course?

A. We knew the demand for the subject was high but we were uncertain as to how people would evaluate a course that is technically complex and new. We had participants from 77 countries following this online course. People were from all regions of the world - most from Africa and Latin America, followed by South Asia. The feedback exceeded our expectations. Here, I quote a few:
  • "Innovative, interesting. Very applicable to my country.”
  •  Useful, important, a must for agricultural professionals.”
  • Well structured. Clearly focused. Understandable for a broad range of people “
  • “Thanks to this course, I learned more about the possibilities to practise Climate Smart agriculture”
  • “I am working on carbon projects. This course is very helpful and timely.”
  • “The course has been very helpful to me. It has broadened my understanding of climate smart agriculture and carbon monitoring. I have developed better ideas on how I can support the farmers in my country to improve productivity in the face of climate change.”
We are grateful to our participants who energized our online forums, challenged us with thoughtful questions during discussions, and made constructive suggestions on how to improve the course. We plan to fine-tune the modules before we launch it again in early 2014.

Q. What do you perceive for the future?  

A. Since the demand is high, the course will run again from February 27 to March 21, 2014, with an application deadline of February 20, 2014. We are also thinking of adding more cases, exercises, and perhaps an online game incorporating climatic zones, typical farm data, soil maps, and a collection of CSA practices across regions that would make online learning more interactive and fun. In addition, WBI has programs to support face-to-face training, which focuses more on hands-on work and peer-to-peer interaction.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank our TerrAfrica sustainable land management team and Malawi Climate Change team for their support during the course development, and all our colleagues at the World Bank who contributed to make this knowledge-sharing possible.

Comments (6)

Places in the course

Hi, Is there a chance to take the course?

Best wishes

training and material for the e-learning

This is a good topic. I would like to be involved in the next training and also know i can access the e-learning material

SALM

I ma very interested by the theme of SALM course, as well I have many study/research interests connected to climate smart agriculture, and sustainable land use planning for multifunctional landscapes. For these reasons I would like to receive more information on the course and how to attend it.
Than you.

Next course

I think that the course - and in specially the evaluation of the carbon emissions and sequester - could be very interesting for farmers from different countries. I would like to access to materials of the course and/or join next course

Monitoring Climate Change

This is an important issue presently and well wellcomed

SALM(Sustainable Agriculture Land Management)

This Course content is need of the hour in context of farmers experiencing CC.I would like to join in this course during feb 2014.Pl send me the details.We can also add the subject of Irrigation and title may be designed as SALIM.

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