Carbon credits to benefit farmers

Improved farming practices, especially in rice cultivation, would reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and provide economic benefits for rural farmers in Viet Nam through participation in a carbon-credit programme, according to international experts.

Although Viet Nam’s greenhouse-gas emissions are relatively low, emissions will triple by 2030 unless significant emissions-mitigation options are undertaken, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute and International Fund for Agricultural Development.

In addition, if the country did not adapt to climate change, farmers’ living conditions and production capacity would be adversely affected, they said.

As Viet Nam is a country based heavily in agriculture and with many of the poorest people living in rural areas, linking poor farmers to voluntary carbon markets could provide significant economic benefits from activities that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

The farming community could earn millions of dollars a year of income from carbon credits, according to experts who spoke during a seminar held recently in Ha Noi.

At the seminar, experts also discussed emissions-mitigation options and governmental policy.

With more than 60 per cent of the population in Viet Nam active in the agricultural sector, there is significant mitigation potential through improved agricultural practices.

“There is significant potential for climate change mitigation in Viet Nam, but careful assessment regarding yield, production and environmental aspects is needed,” said Claudia Ringler, senior research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute.

According to the institute, mitigation potential in Viet Nam is largest with rice and in rural areas where approximately 7 million ha of paddy crop are harvested annually, and where the majority of the country’s poor live.

“One of the challenges of carbon-market entry for developing countries is the small size of farms and the lack of institutions that can organise these farmers and include them in carbon markets,” said Dao The Anh, director of the Centre for Agrarian Systems Research and Development.

Last year, the Government affirmed its commitment to reducing agricultural emissions while enhancing economic growth and reducing poverty. It targets increasing agricultural production by 20 per cent and reducing emissions and the poverty rate by 20 per cent by 2020.

The institute along with the International Fund for Agricultural Development have launched a strategic programme to advance innovative policies designed to help the poor benefit from climate-change mitigation and improved market access.

Viet Nam remains a country heavily grounded in agriculture. In 2010, approximately 63 per cent of the working population were active in agriculture. By 2020, the share is expected to be 59 per cent.

At the same time, the country has enjoyed very rapid growth across all major sectors over the last decade. As a result, greenhouse-gas emissions per capita have increased exponentially.

According to experts, the country accounts for a significant share of greenhouse-gas mitigation potential through improved agricultural practices as well as improvements in other sectors.

In rice farming, a major greenhouse gas emitted is methane, which is produced by anaerobic decomposition of rice straw in flooded fields.

Most farmers in the country do not have expertise on how to cut emissions during farming procedures.

In addition, many of them lack sufficient knowledge about land reparation, water management, seed preparation, harvesting and fertiliser application.

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