Aid by Trade Foundation and Partners Invest EUR 2.8 Million in Climate Adaptation Project
Promoting Climate Protection and Resilience for Small-Scale Farmers in Africa Through Sustainable Soil Management
Despite its key function in climate protection, soil management often falls by the wayside. The way we use our soil has significant implications for our climate, and it also plays a role in deciding whether unique species of plants and animals remain extant and whether humanity will be able to live from the soil in the future. The livelihoods and continued survival of small-scale farmers in Africa largely depend on how changing climate conditions affect the fertility of their soil. To enable the farmers to develop resiliency and adapt to the changing climate, the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), which administers Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), launched CAR-iSMa, a co-operative project with a total budget of around EUR 2.8 million.
CAR-iSMa is short for “Climate Adaption and Resilience: A Pan-African Learning and Knowledge Exchange Project on Improved Soil Management”. Created at the initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation, the project is being supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is being implemented together with the agriculture organisation LDC Suisse and with three CmiA-verified cotton companies: CIDT from Côte d’Ivoire, JFS from Mozambique, and LDC from Zambia. This co-operative project’s primary objective is to improve soil management through sustainable production methods in order to better the livelihoods of small-scale farming families, reduce the effects of climate change for this target group, and strengthen their resilience. Soil & More Impacts (SMI), a company that provides services for sustainable agriculture with a focus on soil and composting, is supporting the project by offering advice on how to increase soil fertility. SMI is also working with three cotton associations in Africa to start providing small-scale farmers with training in composting and regenerative agriculture.
“Through the CAR-iSMa project, we are making an important contribution to climate protection and are assisting small-scale farmers in Africa in developing strategies to counteract the effects of climate change. Our goal is to enable both current and future generations of farmers to earn a living from the cotton produced in their soil. To achieve this goal, it is crucial to sustainably manage soil as a natural resource, which is why that is our primary focus in this project,” summarises Tina Stridde, the managing director of the Aid by Trade Foundation. “Soil is crucial to the livelihoods of many small-scale farming families. The farmers are suffering as climate change renders the soil increasingly parched and infertile, and they have little access to the knowledge and means they need in order to adapt accordingly. Through an on-site assessment, we were able to confirm that the cotton farmers are interested in learning more about composting and other aspects of regenerative agriculture because they want to reduce erosion, conserve soil fertility, and ensure the long-term productivity of their soil,” adds Britta Deutsch. As the foundation’s head project manager for CAR-iSMa, Ms Deutsch travelled to Côte d’Ivoire to set up the project. The West African country is one of three project countries and a long-time CmiA partner country.
A total of around 100,000 people working in cotton production are expected to benefit from the project activities. The focus is on the small-scale farmers supported by local, CmiA-verified cotton companies. This co-operative project is also planned to include a qualification programme for soil-management trainers as well as training material for agricultural consultants. Innovative approaches like self-cultured compost microbes and pyrolysis—which produces vegetable carbon, thereby capturing carbon in the soil for the long term as well as improving the soil structure and water-retention capacity—are planned to be tested as part of the project before being rolled out in CmiA’s wider network if possible. The plan is to enhance 92,000 hectares of land by improving soil fertility; this is roughly equivalent in size to greater Berlin. Another area of focus is a transnational and inter-organisational knowledge exchange between the participating cotton associations. To scale up the long-term benefits of the lessons learnt and of the positive experiences, successful approaches should be implemented throughout the CmiA network in Africa after the end of the project. In this way, AbTF aims to continue improving the small-scale farmers’ production practices.
The CAR-iSMa project is part of the Sub-Saharan Cotton Initiative, which supports four public–private partnerships under a global programme pursuing sustainability and value creation in agricultural supply chains under the umbrella of SEWOH, a German special initiative for a world without hunger. At the behest of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the programme promotes sustainability in a selection of agricultural supply chains.
About the Aid by Trade Foundation & Cotton made in Africa (CmiA)
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is an internationally recognised seal for sustainably produced cotton from Africa. The CmiA initiative was established by the Hamburg-based Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) in 2005. AbTF is working to realise its goals through CmiA, which is one of the world’s leading standards for sustainable cotton. In keeping with the social-business approach, the licensing revenue for CmiA-certified cotton is reinvested in the cotton-growing regions of Sub-Saharan Africa in order to improve the working and living conditions of cotton farmers and their families and to protect the environment. More information is available at www.cottonmadeinafrica.org.
Press Contact for Cotton made in Africa
Christina Ben Bella