Acorn Farmer Payout Ceremony with Tanzania’s Minister of State
Focused on farmers
Like any Acorn payout ceremony, the focus is on the smallholder farmers. Without their investment and dedication, there would be no carbon credits to begin with. These payout ceremonies are often attended by (local) government officials as well. In this case, the Hon. Dr. Selemani Saidi Jafo (Tanzania's Minister of State) was the one to present the farmers with their payment.
Around 500 farmers were present and excited to receive their payment, derived from CRUs bought by Microsoft, Bain, and Standard Chartered, among others. Many farmers planned to reinvest in their farms' agroforestry designs, by adding beehives or cows, for example.
The payment ceremony, with Minister Jafo second from the left
Engaging with local government
As African governments are engaging more and more with the carbon market, it makes it all the more important to focus on the farmers. As Jelmer explains, "In Zambia and Malawi, for example, you can see that the regulations are developing. In Tanzania, they are also looking at how their carbon legislation can be improved."
These payout ceremonies also become a space to show how different Acorn's approach is compared to other players in the carbon market through its prioritization of supporting smallholder farmers. "The minister was immensely impressed by the concept of agroforestry and appreciated that 80% of CRU sales revenue flowed back to the farmers," shares Jelmer.
Illustrating the added value of payout ceremonies, Jelmer explained: "These moments are unique opportunities to provide local governments with information, and potentially have a positive impact on the decisions they make — by highlighting how Acorn can assist countries in reaching their NDCs*, for instance."
*NDCs, or Nationally Determined Contributions, are the individual goals for each country outlined in the Paris Agreement.
The payout ceremony billboard, featuring Hon. Dr. Selemani Saidi Jafo
The future of Acorn projects in Tanzania
"It's also great to see how the payment ceremonies are approached by the local population," Jelmer added. "You'll see things like a billboard on the side of the road announcing that the minister will be speaking at this event, with a Rabobank logo on it." These billboards are a way for Acorn’s local partners to promote the payout ceremony, but also the agroforestry project to the wider community.
Our local partner in the region, Kaderes, has already onboarded an impressive 25,000 farmers. Roughly 500 of these farmers were present at the payout ceremony and received their payment at the event. Due to the large number of agroforestry farmers, Kaderes continued to issue payments to the remaining farmers for quite a while even after the ceremony. While this is a good sign, it is also emblematic of a challenge as well: with such high numbers comes other operational issues: for example, how do you organize tree nurseries for that many farmers?
"Our local partners are doing truly impressive work," Jelmer said. "Scaling up just takes a lot of effort. That, right now, is our next big challenge." As far as challenges go, it's one of the better ones to have.