Assessing the Opportunity for Agricultural Soil Carbon Offsets in Nepal

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Climate mitigation finance through carbon offsets is increasingly considered a tool to improve land management and agricultural productivity in developing countries while also promoting sustainable development and enhancing climate mitigation and adaptation capacity. Under an offsets program, farmers or herders can adopt certain management practices to minimize carbon loss from the soil and augment carbon returns to the soil that earn carbon credits to be sold on a voluntary carbon market. These management practices ideally improve soil fertility and productivity as well as soil carbon stocks, thus providing farmers with additional revenue from higher production and from carbon payments. Nepal’s agriculture and grazing lands have strong potential for additional carbon sequestration. Despite potential benefits, a soil carbon offsets project must address many challenging technical issues, including additionality, permanence, leakage, measurement and monitoring. The report is designed to help the Mountain Institute understand the tradeoffs of developing a soil carbon offsets project. As the organization considers the potential value of soil carbon offsets, it is imperative first consider the organizational objectives of the project: is this project designed as development tool or as a means of becoming an early actor for a novel but very risky funding source? While there are more direct ways to support agriculture-­‐based livelihoods in Nepal and significant technical issues to resolve, an offsets project may offer valuable co-­‐ benefits including improved crop productivity and food security. To weight these tradeoffs, the report reviews soil carbon in agriculture and rangeland systems, key concepts for offset development, possible carbon markets and other funding sources and offers recommendations for best practices in developing soil carbon offsets in Nepal. The Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project is used as a case study for the tradeoffs of establishing a soil carbon offsets project. The project demonstrates that participating farmers may gain valuable co-­‐benefits from increasing the pool of soil organic carbon, but program payments are expected to be quite low.





Dewey, Sara (2013). Assessing the Opportunity for Agricultural Soil Carbon Offsets in Nepal. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.