Plant a better future

  • Empower smallholder farmers

  • Realize carbon removal

  • Combat climate change

Get down to earth

As part of the Rabobank, our roots are firmly planted in fertile soil. Agriculture is our area of expertise, supporting farmers our commitment. That's why we partner with project coordinators, NGOs, and cooperatives or companies working directly with smallholder farmers around the world. We reach out to those farmers most impacted by climate change, and empower them to transition to climate-smart and carbon-capturing agroforestry.

Explore our approach: this animation illustrates our process in a nutshell.

Open to all

By measuring and certifying the sequestered carbon in a low-cost manner, we enable smallholders to access the voluntary carbon market. We empower them to generate an additional income stream by compensating them for sequestering additional carbon on their plots of land. Through support and financial incentives, we point them towards agroforestry. The trees they plant on their farmland capture excess carbon in the atmosphere.

Plant a seed

Agroforestry is nothing new. Planting trees to support soil quality and crop yield is something we've done for centuries. Trees grow deep roots that retain soil, produce nutrients for other plants, and attract friendly pollinators. They provide shade, protection, and other environmental benefits. They even provide new produce (such as mangos, cashews, or avocados).

Focus on removal

Once the trees between the crops have grown and captured enough carbon from the atmosphere, we issue carbon removal units (or CRUs). By focusing on removals, rather than other available carbon credits (avoidance or reduction), we ensure our credits are of the highest quality, reliability, and transparency.

Fair farmer payments

The best part is this: 80% of the sales price flows back to the farmer, 10% goes to local partners and 10% is for Acorn. Always. Our system already creates an extra stream of income for thousands of smallholder farmers in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. It also drives land restoration, food security, and social development. And it provides reliable means for education and equality. 

Reap the benefits

When farmers practice agroforestry on their land, the benefits spread far and wide. Crops are better protected from the elements, diversifying yield and income after an initial investment. (A mango tree needs to grow before it produces mangos, after all.) But trees have more benefits: soil retention makes communities less vulnerable to natural disasters.

From good to better

Then there are the financial benefits, which trickle down to all areas of life. That's what we refer to as co-benefits, which overlap nicely with the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. Read more about that here.  

Acorn's story

See it for yourself

We meticulously document where our CRUs come from and where they're going. Our tools enable us to verify that the biomass they represent is still present. And that data is available to all: everyone can check the details of individual CRUs, farmers, and plots of land. Transparency is a two-way street, after all. 

Have a look yourself, or view all plots of the project here.  

Visit Rosa's farm

More information about our CRUs

What are the eligibility criteria for companies that want to buy Acorn CRUs?

We believe in our mission and commit ourselves to empowering smallholder farmers and fighting climate change. That also means that we want the organizations who buy our credits to make a real effort, and not just buy a few carbon credits and tick a box. 

To be eligible to purchase Acorn CRUs organizations must meet the following criteria: 

1. Organizations should qualify as a business user and not a consumer.

2. Organizations must not be active in any of the following sectors:

  • oil and gas;

  • aviation;

  • mining, or;

  • other fossil fuels industries (this does not include power generation utilities who use fossil fuels to generate electricity for consumption).

3. At least one of the following measures should be in place: 

  • a committed science-based target (SBTi) aligned to limiting a global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees;

  • is part of the Net Zero Banking Alliance;

  • a written strategy in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (publicly available or available to Rabobank); reductions should be in line with the industry target of the SBTi standard;

  • proven greenhouse gas reduction (publicly available or available to Rabobank), in line with the industry targets of the SBTi standard.

Furthermore, all Third-Party buyers must comply with the Rabobank Sustainability Statement, or have a similar type of policy in place.

All characteristics of Acorn CRUs

Each and every Acorn CRU you buy: 

  • Represents one tonne of CO2; 

  • Is certified by Plan Vivo; 

  • Denotes removal offsets (not avoidance, reduction or allowance credits); 

  • Is ex-post—the carbon is sequestered before the CRU is generated, not a promise for the future; 

  • Provides a nature-based solution—we use agroforestry methods rather than technological solutions like direct air capture; 

  • Is derived from projects that exclusively cover smallholder farmers (<10 ha) in developing countries; 

  • Is transparent, measured with remote sensing and traceable —we show when, where and by whom the carbon is sequestered, all the way down to the individual plot and farmer level; 

  • Features a durability period of 20 years—this is the period during which the CO2 represented by a CRU is expected to remain removed from the atmosphere or sequestered in the buffer pool; 

  • Is backed by a buffer pool put in place as insurance for reversal events; 

  • Guarantees 80-90% of the sale price flows directly back to the smallholder farmer; 

  • Contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15, 17.

  • Has a minimum price of EUR 20;

  • As CRU prices fluctuate, we can only provide an indication of our recent transaction price of €35 (updated Oct-2023). No rights can be derived from this information.

Additional information of Acorn CRUs

Every Acorn CRU represents one metric tonne CO2, which is intended to be:

  • Net of any leakage,

  • Removed from the atmosphere as a result of the biomass growth in agroforestry projects,

  • Additional to any GHG reduction that would occur in the base of the projects

  • Stored or otherwise sequestered during the durability period.

The durability period is the period during which the CO2 represented by a CRU is expected to remain removed from the atmosphere or sequestered in the buffer pool. For our CRUs this currently is monitored for 20 years since its creation.

To support durability, we have created a buffer pool by setting aside 15% of the CRUs issued. In case of unexpected, premature release of carbon stock (e.g. through forest fires or illegal logging), CRUs are replaced from the buffer pool (which is not unlimited). These replacement CRUs are referred to as buffer pool CRUs. The buffer pool is managed by Rabobank with third-party oversight from the Plan Vivo Foundation. For avoidance of doubt, Acorn’s reversal obligation is capped to the CRUs available in the buffer pool.

CRUs are calculated following the Acorn methodology. CRUs are based on the values of above ground biomass in a certain plot, derived from satellite images and ground truth data using predictive machine learning models.

To generate CRUs we use machine learning carbon models to measure the above ground biomass. The carbon models are developed from a combination of sample plot ground truth measurements and satellite imagery for a specific ecoregion. The models make an estimate of the total biomass of a certain plot. Data from sample plots is used to calibrate the models. The minimum accuracy of the models is 70% and is compensated for with an uncertainty adjustment factor. All models are validated – see Certification | Acorn Rabobank for more information.

For a full description of our process and all details of the models and formulas used, have a look at the Acorn framework and methodology. Both are publicly available on our website and both have been under public consultation.

The Acorn Framework describes our approach and the Plan Vivo certification process and requirements for every Acorn CRU.

The Acorn Methodology describes the processes involved when measuring and calculating carbon removal units. The Methodology has been externally assessed and approved by two accredited validation and verification bodies: SCS Global Services and AENOR.

Buyers have a committed science based target (SBTi) aligned to limiting a global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees and/or a written strategy in place to reduce its GHG emissions and/or a proven GHG reduction (publicly available or available to Rabobank) and purchases Acorn CRUs to compensate unavoidable GHG emissions from its activities.

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