A study from ETH Zurich shows that it’s worthwhile for farmers to increase the diversity of plants growing on their land.
“Preserving or restoring diverse grasslands can be a win-win situation,” the researchers write. Not only because this increases farmers’ yields and operating revenues, but also because it improves and promotes important ecosystem services such as pollination or water quality.
Lessons from North America: Investors say agroforestry isn’t just climate friendly — it’s also profitable
Traditional investment models with need for fast returns have been seen as a barrier to attracting capital to regenerative agriculture and agroforestry projects.
However, investors are increasingly waking up to the opportunities to not only positively impact food supply and climate change but to ensure a healthy return on investment by transitioning away from conventional agriculture. A 2019 report showed $47.5bn of investments had been made into 700 projects in the U.S alone. Startups such as Propogate Ventures are successfully raising seed capital to help farmers transition from conventional agriculture to agroforestry.
A subject we shall explore in more detail at AfricaLive; what lessons can we take from the sector's North American growth and apply to emerging markets?
Fair trade certification schemes have made a positive impact on promoting sustainable farming practices. However, both African businesses and environmentally conscious consumers often find the schemes are challenging and confusing. No African government has signed up to champion agricultural certification.
Furthermore, the bulk of the environmental impact from agriculture is coming from the lowest-performing companies in terms of output. Typically, these companies are not the focus of certification programmes.
An innovative new approach, where community members are trained to collect data on sustainable practices, aims to move beyond certification and drive real change across the sector.