World Agri-Tech caught up with Alex Bell, CEO at Agoro Carbon Alliance to discuss how the company will help farmers generate a sustainable income from carbon credit sales. 

Alex Bell
Alex Bell, CEO, Agoro Carbon Alliance

What is the Agoro Carbon Alliance? What needs does it address? 

The Agoro Carbon Alliance, initiated by Yara International, is a global business created to enable farmers to implement climate positive production practices in a profitable way.  Through the Agoro Carbon Alliance, we’re decarbonizing the food value chain by mitigating and sequestering GHG emissions at the farm level in order to build a more responsible agricultural future and we’re looking for partners who want to contribute to enabling this climate-positive food future.

How did this new company come about for Yara?

For more than a century, Yara has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with farmers, helping them optimize yield and quality. As farmers around the world continue to evolve, so do we. And as food demands worldwide continue to grow, there is a greater need to feed the world while also protecting our planet. Agoro is part of Yara’s solution for ensuring sustainability in agriculture.

Yara’s proven relationship with farmers and our global footprint allows Agoro, a system beyond Yara’s business core, to help farmers adopt new carbon cropping practices, maximize the amount and quality of the credits they produce to achieve the greatest price and impact, and to enable all of us to take action on the climate challenge. Agoro was built on the strong trust that Yara has with its farmers, putting them at the center.

What makes the Agoro Carbon Alliance different from other carbon initiatives in the market?  

The Agoro Carbon Alliance has resolute farmer centricity—we put farmers at the forefront of everything we do. By integrating Yara’s proven agriculture innovation, we have the experience and credibility among farmers and our global partners to reach a global scale and form robust partnerships. We’ve always seen ourselves as the trusted partner for the farmer, and now we’re coming alongside them to offer a new farm decarbonization solution. Through Yara’s knowledge and solutions, we can address 70% of the carbon footprint in a crop like corn.

How does it work for farmers?

Farmers who join the Agoro Carbon Alliance can generate a sustainability income from carbon credit sales, while also sustaining or increasing crop yields with the help of modern precision farming tools. Our business model will enable farmers to make the transition and adopt carbon cropping practices—and, in turn, we’ll provide financial incentives to make the transition to practices such as nitrogen use management, minimum to no-till, and cover cropping worthwhile. We already have a pilot project underway to generate the first credits in 2021.

We recognize the challenges and risks involved for the farmer when making any sort of significant changes to their operation. So, when a farmer joins the Agoro Carbon Alliance, we’re there to support them every step of the way. We also want to make sure this opportunity is accessible to farmers around the globe by developing opportunities for small holder farmers as well.

What’s another significant benefit for farmers?

Because we are foundationally supported by Yara, we have a proven track record of success with helping farmers achieve yield and quality in their crops. Now, with Agoro, we can help farmers create value from a third dimension, which is sustainability. Not only can we help farmers improve their yield and quality with Yara, we’re also making sustainability profitable.

Tell us about the Iowa pilot program, for example.

Through our pilot program, we’re working with a group of farmers and advisors in the U.S. who will be participating in the Agoro Carbon Alliance. We have around 24,000 acres registered to participate. This will serve as a program model for farmers all around the world: to adopt carbon cropping practices. It is from the pilot program that we’ll learn about the risks and benefits to changing farmer practices, and we’ll also have the opportunity to hear directly from farmers on their program thoughts.

What partnerships with retailers and distributors are being discussed and why?

We are looking for global and local partners that will help us in our mission to enable farmers to adopt carbon cropping at scale. We actively invite players that bring in relevant capabilities—from carbon innovation, to local farmer knowledge, to global platforms or technology capabilities that will join forces. We want to share the value of something much bigger than we could build on our own. We know that we cannot solve the climate change problem alone, and we therefore invite technology innovators, co-ops, lenders, insurers and other corporations to join the Alliance. While starting in the U.S., we are in the process of expanding and learning in various other markets, and we hope to build the same strong alliances to support farmers.

 

Alex Bell will join the virtual World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit on March 10 for his presentation on ‘Enabling a Climate Positive Food Future’ at 1.30pm PT.

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