FarmTree Tool Advancing Agroforestry for small holder coffee farmers

Smallholder farmers are vital contributors to global food production and rural economies however they face numerous challenges that hinder their livelihoods, particularly in developing countries. Limited access to resources, volatile markets, and the impacts of climate change all pose significant obstacles to their economic well-being. Embracing sustainable agricultural practices, such as agroforestry, holds immense potential to address these challenges and improve the lives of smallholder farmers. However, the widespread adoption and scaling of agroforestry practices among these farmers encounter significant barriers, preventing them from fully accessing the benefits of these innovative approaches.

The adoption and scaling of agroforestry practices face a significant challenge due to the difficulty in quantifying and scaling their impact. The existing barrier lies in the complex, costly, and often unfeasible nature of conducting agroforestry cost-benefit analyses. Evaluating factors such as cash flow, carbon storage, agro-biodiversity, climate resilience, and nutrient cycling requires extensive resources and expertise. This poses a challenge for farmers and farming cooperatives who require viable agroforestry business plans, investors seeking investment cases with social and environmental impact figures, governments in need of natural capital accounting for international reporting, and donors who require justification for grants and soft loans.

In a significant stride towards sustainable agricultural practices, the FarmTree Tool (FTT) has secured funding from the Challenge Fund, managed in partnership with Kyeema, to further its initiative. This project focuses on nature-based solutions (NBS) for agroforestry and restoration initiatives that engage smallholder farmers. With a primary focus on the Ethiopian coffee system, the FTT aims to enhance agroforestry planning and management, improve farmer income, and contribute to global climate and biodiversity targets.

“The FarmTree Tool is the first tool in the world to project the value of agroforestry on a wide array of indicators. And this at the push of a button. This replaces the current timely, costly and sometimes impossible trajectories to estimate agroforestry performance” explains Around Braun, CEO of FarmTree.  

What sets the FarmTree Tool apart from other tools is its comprehensive approach and unique features. Unlike other software solutions that target specific issues or agricultural systems, the FTT combines climate projections, soil data, plot plans, and a quantitative tree and crop database to generate detailed projections and scenario comparisons. Additionally, the FTT visualizes the indicators and their correlation with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), providing practitioners with a holistic view of their agroforestry initiatives.

One of the key strengths of the FTT is its scalability and potential for expansion. With collaboration from Moyee, a Dutch coffee company, the project can be extended to benefit more farmers within the same region or other areas where Moyee and other coffee companies operate. Furthermore, the FTT’s dynamic model, based on agro-ecological principles, allows customization for different regions or agricultural systems worldwide.

The primary impact of the FarmTree Tool project lies in its commitment to improving the sustainability of coffee farming in Ethiopia while enhancing the income of 12,000 smallholder farmers that supply coffee to Moyee.

“By providing a clear agroforestry and financial plan, the FTT will empower farmers to embrace environmentally friendly practices that contribute to landscape restoration and forest conservation” Braun adds.

Support through the Challenge Fund will enable the acceleration of FTT development, making the interface more user-friendly, adapting crop/tree management systems, incorporating biodiversity and carbon indicators, and testing these advancements within existing coffee production systems. This paves the way for the FTT to become a standard tool for valuing agroforestry, not only in coffee production but also in other commodities.

The FarmTree Tool’s innovative approach and its potential to deliver significant impact make it a game-changer in the field of sustainable agriculture. The FTT empowers farmers and practitioners to make informed decisions, improve income, and contribute to global climate and biodiversity targets.

With continued development and support, the FTT has exciting potential to revolutionize agroforestry practices worldwide and pave the way for a more sustainable and prosperous future in the agricultural sector, particularly for smallholders.

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