About Acorn

Acorn – Agroforestry CRUs for the Organic Restoration of Nature – is a program being developed by Rabobank to unlock the international carbon market for smallholder farmers in the developing world.

To do this, Rabobank is introducing a scalable agroforestry and carbon sequestration monitoring system. Using remote sensing technology and AI, we are bringing down the costs of biomass measuring and ground truthing, making sequestration monitoring and monetization cost-effective and scalable. This is what sets Acorn apart. Smallholder farmers will not only reap the benefits of agroforestry, but also the profits of the carbon market.

Unlike other programs, Rabobank is also developing Acorn into a fully traceable, ex-post solution. The source of each and every Acorn carbon removal unit (CRU) is linked to an actual plot of land and the carbon the trees there have removed from the atmosphere.

This is Rabobank’s moonshot: to enable hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of smallholder farmers to transition to agroforestry by compensating them for their contribution to our planet. We are partnering with dozens of local organizations around the globe, from NGOs to farmers’ co-ops, processors to governments.

Acorn CRUs in a nutshell 

Rabobank is developing carbon removal units (CRUs) based on actual carbon stored in planted trees. An Acorn CRU is only sold after trees have converted carbon into biomass. We can measure this on a smallholder farmer’s land with the help of remote sensing technology, such as satellite imagery. And this is what makes an Acorn CRU different from your typical carbon credit: an Acorn CRUs represents actual carbon that is no longer in our atmosphere.

Benefits for farmers

Smallholder farmers supply a great deal of our world’s food, especially in developing regions across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. As such regions increasingly feel the impact of climate change, smallholder farmers require additional resources to safeguard their lands, livelihoods and the well-being of their communities. Rabobank’s Acorn program aims to contribute to farmer income in the form of new revenue streams through carbon removal and agroforestry yields (e.g. fruit or nuts). Agroforestry practices can also improve soil quality, biodiversity, and the microclimate around the farm itself. This can lead to a domino effect of benefits: as overall farm health improves, so too the livelihood of the farmer and the farmer’s entire community.

Benefits for corporates

Many efforts are already underway to reduce carbon emissions in the business world. But to reduce the rate and peak of global warming, emissions trading is not enough. We also need to invest in carbon-negative initiatives

Agroforestry can lead to real carbon removal, which is why Rabobank is developing a carbon removal and trading system based on introducing and expanding agroforestry practices around the world. Acorn’s CRUs equal carbon sequestered – already realized, ex-post credits, not promises of future removal (ex-ante) or credits for avoidance or allowance. Acorn’s CRUs are also more traceable and verifiable than credits from most other programs.

Corporations will benefit from this clear and transparent system. By buying Acorn’s CRUs, they will not only finance the sequestration of carbon, but also support the growth and prosperity of local communities worldwide.

Benefits for the planet

Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere is the great challenge of our time. Emissions reductions are just the tip of the iceberg. In truth, we have to get rid of what’s out there.

Agroforestry can help. Trees absorb, or sequester, more carbon than crops or pastures. Planting trees improves soil quality and increases local biodiversity, and produces food, as well. Agroforestry practices are therefore an effective tool in the fight against climate change and the protection of our food supply

Rabobank’s Acorn program is developing a system that expands agroforestry and therefore carbon sequestration across the smallholder farmers that help feed our planet. We aim to do this by ensuring that carbon is taken out of the atmosphere by real trees, and by scaling the technology to affordable and accessible levels for the farmers who make it possible.

Acorn founding team

Paul van Balen

Head of Platform


Tom Hoogervorst

Business consultant


Martine Jansen

Head of Supply


Eline Kajim

Head of Certification, Reporting and Verification


Jelmer van de Mortel

Head of Acorn


Margreet Muizebelt

Financial specialist


Dawn Musil



Kyle Nielsen

Business analyst


Jochem Nietsch

Head of Markets


Claudia Terpstra

Innovation Manager


Emma van de Ven

Strategy and research lead


Eveline van Wezel

Digital advisor


Assel Zhumatayeva

Business consultant


“In order to reach the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, it is essential that businesses operate in a more sustainable way to reduce carbon emissions to zero”

Wiebe Draijer

Chairman Managing Board at Robobank


Rabobank has formalized its protocol for a scalable and accessible carbon certification system for smallholder agroforestry. The Acorn framework is now publicly available. Soon also the Agroforestry Methodology will be made available here.

The document can be downloaded by clicking on the button on the right. The download should start immediately.

Acorn in the news

Source : Volkskrant

Standard Chartered ruilt eigen CO2-uitstoot tegen bomen in Afrika, via Rabobank-project

De grote Britse bank Standard Chartered gaat via een nieuw Rabo-platform de eigen CO2-uitstoot compenseren. De bank betaalt voor de aanplant van bomen op het land van kleine Afrikaanse boeren. De Rabobank wil zo het inkomen van de boeren verbeteren, en honderdduizenden bomen planten om de CO2–uitstoot te verminderen.

Source : BBC

Coffee producers fight climate change

ACORN is the world´s first direct trade platform that allows companies and consumers to offset their emissions through agroforestry on smallholder farms without middlemen.

Source : Financial Times

A marketplace for change

Rabobank and Microsoft have joined forces to create an online, carbon removal unit marketplace that connects large corporations with smallholder farmers who can sequester carbon through agroforestry.

Source : NRC

Elke bank moet een carbon bank worden en Rabo wil de eerste zijn

Rabobank en Microsoft komen met grote plannen voor carbon banking: via massale boomaanplant CO2 uit de lucht halen en die financieren via ‘carbon credits’."Bijna iedereen moet dit gaan doen om de vraag te kunnen bijbenen”, stelt Rabobank-topman Wiebe Draijer.

Source : Microsoft

Microsoft carbon removal: Lessons from an early corporate purchase

One year ago, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, President Brad Smith and CFO Amy Hood announced Microsoft’s bold commitment to be carbon negative by 2030 and to remove our historic emissions by 2050.

Source : Solidaridad South America

Cafetaleros acceden a bonos financieros por emplear prácticas agrícolas climáticamente inteligentes

El piloto es una iniciativa de Rabobank en alianza con la organización Solidaridad y la Iniciativa Noruega por los Bosques y el Clima (NICFI), incorpora a los productores