Solidaridad & the Bioversity Alliance – CIAT team up with Nicaraguan farmers to confront climate change

In Nicaragua, a new partnership is introducing climate-smart practices to 25,000 coffee and cocoa producers and connecting them to carbon markets. The project is designed to foster sustainable agriculture, while boosting incomes and resilience in farming communities that are disproportionately bearing the burden of climate change.

With global warming accelerating and extreme weather events becoming more frequent, smallholder coffee and cocoa farmers regularly face droughts, floods and declining crop yields. In Nicaragua, Solidaridad is working with farmers to implement climate-smart practices, which can improve income and provide access to carbon markets.

To that end, Solidaridad has teamed up with the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) to support farmers as they confront the urgent climate challenges in their communities, shifting them from climate victims to climate heroes. 

Climate victim to climate hero

Small-scale farmers in Solidaridad’s Climate Heroes programme are equipped with the training and resources needed to improve production, remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, and substantially increase their incomes.

These climate heroes embody resilience and sustainability by adopting climate-smart practices, such as implementing and maintaining agroforestry systems that mitigate the effects of climate change and help them maintain their livelihoods. These practices also qualify coffee and cocoa producers to receive additional income for their carbon sequestration efforts.

“The climate crisis is one of the biggest challenges that is disproportionately affecting smallholder producers. At the Bioversity Alliance – CIAT we are proud to collaborate with Solidaridad to strengthen the skills and knowledge of 25,000 coffee and cocoa producers in Nicaragua,” said Jenny Wiegel, the sub-regional manager for Central America of the Bioversity Alliance – CIAT.

“Through climate-smart practices, inclusive access to services and markets, these producers will not only be able to mitigate the effects of climate change, but also improve their resilience and livelihoods. Together, we are transforming adversity into sustainable and equitable opportunities for rural communities.” 

Maura Jarquín and her son. Maura is an exemplary producer who is passionate about agroforestry systems on her farm and is a role model within her community.

Stepping up to climate-smart

Ensuring that smallholder farmers are able to benefit from the growing interest in voluntary carbon markets has been an ongoing challenge. Smallholder farmers are often excluded due to the cost and complexity of tracking and monitoring carbon on their farms. That’s why Solidaridad works with the Acorn platform in a number of countries, including Colombia, Kenya, Peru, Uganda and Nicaragua. 

The Acorn platform was established by the Dutch financial services company Rabobank in 2020 to help smallholder farmers access carbon markets. As farmers implement sustainable practices on their farms, they can offer their sequestered carbon as Carbon Removal Units. Acorn uses remote sensing technology to measure stored carbon, which greatly reduces monitoring and verification costs, and allows them to pass more value onto farmers. Solidaridad, for its part, has developed Asómbrate to support farmers as they implement climate smart practices. 

Asómbrate – a play on the Spanish words “asombrarse” (astonish) and “sombra” (shade) – highlights the opportunity that planting trees holds for small-scale coffee and cocoa producers. The Asómbrate initiative aims to support organized producers who are part of cooperatives, producer associations, traders’ supply chains, as well as independent farmers.

In its work with coffee and cocoa producers, the Asómbrate project focuses on the following:

  • Production: Training and technical assistance enables producers to adopt climate-smart practices, improving productivity and resilience while capturing carbon dioxide.
  • Services: Local service providers support the implementation of climate-smart practices by promoting small business creation and strengthening entrepreneurship among women and youth.
  • Market Access: Producers will be connected to the voluntary carbon market through Rabobank’s Acorn platform, allowing them to receive a payment for their carbon sequestration efforts, as well as to access premium markets while meeting sustainability standards.

Aligning on goals

The Alliance of Bioversity International – CIAT group employs research-based solutions to harness agricultural biodiversity, transforming food systems to improve farmers’ livelihoods and tackle malnutrition, climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. As a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Alliance of Bioversity International – CIAT organization is committed to working towards a food secure future for all.

We believe this partnership represents a crucial step towards building climate resilient communities and sustainable food systems. By supporting small producers, Solidaridad and the Bioversity Alliance – CIAT are driving positive change and shaping a future where sustainability becomes the cornerstone of agriculture.

María Durán, manager of Solidaridad in Central America

The partnership effort in Nicaragua reflects Solidaridad’s commitment to producers and workers, and their ongoing effort to earn decent incomes, sustainably shape their futures and work in harmony with nature. Across supply chains, Solidaridad strives to make sustainability the norm, while fostering an inclusive economy that offers sustainable livelihoods for all.