Long-term financing of SLM extension services through a carbon certification scheme

KIKA Communications Africa, Nairobi
Published: 18 December 2023
Last edited: 18 December 2023
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The farming system of Western Kenya is characterized by small-scale subsistence agriculture, with low inputs, low yields, and rapid loss of soil fertility, while there is a lack of financing for long-term extension services on sustainable land management(SLM). Therefore, a carbon certification scheme for soil conservation measures connected to the voluntary carbon market has been set up. Instead of receiving direct payments, farmer families participating in the scheme profit from the proceeds of the carbon revenues through an investment into a community benefit-sharing mechanism. This system provides bi-annual extension services on SLM for the next 20 years. A local not-for-profit entity, “Soil-Carbon Certification Services”-SCCS, has been set up to coordinate the certification, the MRV system, and the adoption of the extension services.The main benefits of the carbon scheme are higher and climate risk-adjusted yields, improved income for farmers, and climate change mitigation via increased carbon in soils and plant biomass.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Food security
Gender mainstreaming
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Health and human wellbeing
Land management
Local actors
Standards/ certification
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Ecosystem loss
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of food security
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience


Kakamega, Kenya
Bungoma, Kenya
Siaya, Kenya


  • Extensive land fragmentation and degradation in Western Kenya. Soils have lost 30-50% of their topsoil carbon for 15-75 years through land change
  • Declining yields of food crops due to soil erosion and degradation through agriculture and nutrient mining in the region, coupled with climate change impacts.
  • Smallholder farmers in Western Kenya are faced with reduced food and income security
  • The application of good agricultural practices is limited by a lack of information and access to new technologies. There is no financing for long-term extension services.
  • Upfront financing for carbon projects is lacking, especially in connection with small-scale farming
  • Other carbon projects often work with direct payments; However, these sums are so small that they cannot substantially add to a farmer’s income and thus will not be a sufficient incentive to participate in such a scheme.
  • There is a lack of support for women, who make up 75% of the Kenyan agricultural workforce.


Smallholder farmers in Western Kenya (Bungoma, Kakamega, Siaya) who participate in the carbon scheme, notably weaker farming households, e.g., women-, and widow-led farms

How do the building blocks interact?

Total transaction costs of carbon projects in smallholder agriculture, including MRV costs, governance of the carbon scheme, and advisory services, are high. Therefore, an efficient MRV system is critical. Lower costs for MRV translate into a larger share of revenues available to be spent to support the participating farmer families. By reinvesting carbon revenues into long-term extension services for SLM instead of distributing the revenues directly, the farmers benefit by gaining higher yields and getting the tools at hand to continue the SLM practices long-term. Community-based organisations (CBOs), which are responsible for the extension services, ensure long-term assistance to farmers and are able to build up trust through their local connections. In order to anchor the carbon scheme in the region and ensure the project's sustainability, the local coordinating entity SCCS was founded to manage the MRV system and ensure financing, adoption, and quality of climate-resilient SLM through its local extension provider.  


  • Participating farmers implementing SLM have 30-50% higher and climate-risk adjusted yields[ASG1]. Thus, the average income of a farmer’s family implementing SLM increased from ca. 1000 to 1500 USD/year, compared to a conventional farmer’s income.
  • Extension services have proven to have a significant effect on the adoption of SLM practices and avoid a change in farming practices and land use after the areas have been approved for certification
  • Farmer’s incomes are diversified by farm development promotion, and their dependency on artificial fertilizers is reduced due to SLM.
  • Digital data collection and processing offer the potential to improve farmer information
  • Farmers are part of formally registered farmer groups, implying they can now access loans from microfinance institutions.
  • The climate effectiveness of soil conservation is measured on 32.000 ha in Western Kenya. Approximately 3,6 t/CO2eq/ha/a of sequestration service can be certified under the VM000017 method. However, the calculation is very conservative since only the soil-carbon increase of the first 30 cm of soil is eligible for certification. We estimate that an additional 50% is sequestered below 30 cm.
  • By addressing ca. 60% of women-led farms and offering extension services to all farmers participating, including weaker (in terms of sequestration service) households, the project contributes to achieving gender equality.

Contributed by

alexis.brakhan_43193's picture

Alexis Brakhan Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH