Case Studies

Find cases and examples of agriculture mitigation in developing countries relative to estimating emissions, policy and finance, planning and implementation, and low-emissions development options below.


Assessment of adoption and impact of management innovations in agriculture carbon project in East Africa

2020 | Khatri-Chhetri A, Ogada M J, Wekesa A, Recha J, Radeny M

This working paper presents the results of an impact assessment of management innovations that were introduced in agricultural carbon projects in East Africa. It evaluates the effect of project design, management, and monitoring transfer of responsibilities to local communities on the performance of agricultural carbon projects.

CCAFS Climate-Smart Villages (CSVs)

2011 | CCAFS

The CSV project launched in 2011 with 15 climate-smart villages in West Africa, East Africa and South Asia. Additional villages were later added in Latin America and Southeast Asia. All the villages are in high-risk areas, which will likely suffer most from a changing climate. Villages are also locations where partners have already established vital links with local communities.

Climate-Smart Agriculture Success Stories From Farming Communities Around The World

2013 | Neate P

This booklet showcases 16 initiatives that are having a widespread impact on food security, adaptation to climate change and climate change mitigation, covering large areas of land and improving the lives of millions of people.

Feasibility study for climate-smart agriculture systems in Southern Africa

2018 | Thierfelder C, Mutenje M

This study was conducted in order to better understand the benefits and challenges of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) technologies and assess their economic, biophysical, environmental and social benefits using existing long-term data. The target areas of the study were Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe, and the goal was to assess the feasibility of CSA technologies for a large outscaling initiative in southern Africa. It concluded that CSA practices provide substantial financial and biophysical benefits that translate into environmental and social benefits for smallholder farmers, and that these benefits often increase over time.

Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project (KACP)

2009 | Vi Agroforestry

The KACP project is aimed at small-scale farmers with less than one hectare of land. About 30,000 farmers are involved in the project, of which the majority are women. Farmers gain knowledge on sustainable agricultural land management practices they can implement on their own farms.

Plant-based and cell-based approaches to meat production

2020 | Rubio NR, Xiang N, Kaplan D

This article compares plant-based and cell-based meat alternatives in regard to production efficiency, product characteristics and impact categories. The review serves to inform stakeholders about the strengths and challenges of each alternative-protein method, highlighting areas of uncertainty.

Emissions & LED Options

Agroforestry systems as a profitable alternative to slash and burn practices in small-scale agriculture of the Brazilian Amazon

2014 | Tremblay S, Lucotte M, Revéret J, Davidson R, Mertens F, et al.

This article focused on two agroforestry systems in the Tapajós region of the Brazilian Amazon that were established in 2009. It evaluates their profitability and confirms that they recover their initial investment and operating costs within 20 years. It also compares them to plots under traditional slash-and-burn cultivation, and Bragantino system. The findings support changing policies to facilitate alternatives to slash-and-burn cultivation and suggest the consideration of ecosystem services as an additional argument in favor of agroforestry systems.

Composting dairy cattle feces at Indonesian small-scale dairy farms: Results of a composting trial in Lembang Sub-District, West Java

2020 | Sefeedpari P, de Vries M, de Buisonjé F, Suharyono D, Wouters B, Al Zahra W

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of composting different ratios of fresh dairy cow feces and amendment material on the composition and the cost price of compost on a practical farm and experimental farm in the Lembang Sub-District, West Java, Indonesia.

Disentangling Challenges to Scaling Alternate Wetting and Drying Technology for Rice Cultivation: Distilling Lessons From 20 Years of Experience in the Philippines

2021 | Enriquez Y, Yadav S, Evangelista2 GK, Villanueva D, Burac MA, Pede V

This article used frameworks for scaling up and innovation uncertainty to conduct a review of the success and challenges of scaling AWD in the Philippines and explains the key factors that have influenced outcomes in the region.

The feasibility of low emissions development interventions for the East African livestock sector: Lessons from Kenya and Ethiopia

2018 | Ericksen P, Crane T

This paper examined the potential of low emissions development (LED) interventions to reduce emissions intensity in the East African livestock sector, and assessed each intervention on its suitability for specific farming systems, technical potential, barriers to adoption, and the potential incentives for farmers. The top three interventions that it recommends are increased production of improved forages in mixed systems and intensive dairy, the increased use of biodigestors in intensive dairy, and improving the management of grazing for pastoral systems. It also notes that that access to improved feeds and forages year round should be the basis for any interventions.

Feasibility of solar pump for sustainable irrigation in Bangladesh

2015 | Hossain MA, Hassan MS, Mottalib MA, et al

Using a base-line survey conducted in 2010 of solar pump users, suppliers and service providers in different locations of Bangladesh, this study found that solar pump is profitable and a more risk free investment compared to diesel engine-operated pump. Benefit cost ratio, net present value, and internal rate of return were found to be higher than diesel-operated pumps, and, after five years, the life cycle cost of solar pump became lower.

Fields on fire: Alternatives to crop residue burning in India

2019 | Shyamsundar P, Springer NP, Tallis H, Polasky S, Jat ML, et al.

This article evaluates the public and private costs and benefits of ten alternate farming practices to manage rice residue, including burn and non-burn options. The article makes the business case for why farmers should adopt no-burn alternative farming practices, discusses barriers to their uptake and solutions to increase their widespread adoption.

Large-scale pasture restoration may not be the best option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil

2019 | Batista E, Soares-Filho B, Barbosa F, et al

This paper compares the potential production, economic return and GHG emissions of an intensification strategy based mainly on pasture restoration and intensification options more focused on supplemental feeding of grazing animals. It found that an intensification strategy based on pasture restoration reduces GHG emissions but produces less favorable economic and GHG emission outcomes when compared with the alternatives, suggesting that more diversified intensification strategies would be beneficial.

Manure management for greenhouse gas mitigation

2013 | Petersen SO, Blanchard M, Chadwick D, Del prado A, Edouard N, et al.

This article explores the diversity of livestock production systems and manure management of four regional cases (Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, China and Europe) with different production intensities and regulations. An overview is given of GHG mitigation management practices for whole-farm management, opportunities and barriers for implementation.

Mitigating Nitrogen Emissions From Dairy Farming Systems in China

2020 | Fang Q, Ma Y, Zhang X, Wei S, Hou Y

This study quantified the nitrogen (N) flows of two manure management systems for dairy cows and tested the effects of ammonia reducing technologies on N recycling efficiency and N losses using scenario analysis. The authors also conducted a scenario analysis of the mitigation potential of integrated crop and dairy production systems of a series of mitigation techniques.

Net greenhouse gas emissions from manure management using anaerobic digestion technology in a beef cattle feedlot in Brazil

2015 | Costa Junior C, Cerri CEP, Pires AV, Cerri CC

This case study evaluated the adoption of anaerobic digestion (AD) technology for treating manure generated by beef cattle feedlots. It found that, depending on the sources of fertilizer and electricity it will replace, AD could significantly mitigate GHG emissions.

Potential of Alternate Wetting and Drying Irrigation Practices for the Mitigation of GHG Emissions from Rice Fields: Two Cases in Central Luzon (Philippines)

2020 | Sander BO, Schneider P, Romasanta R, Samoy-Pascual K, Sibayan EB, et al.

This study assessed methane and nitrous oxide fluxes of rice fields in a pumped irrigation system in Central Luzon, Philippines, under continuous flooded (CF) and alternate wetting and drying (AWD) treatments. It found that methane emissions and total GWPs were substantially reduced under AWD management. The study was conducted on farmers' fields over seven subsequent seasons, demonstrating the feasibility of AWD under farmers’ management in addition to its effectiveness as a mitigation strategy.

Estimating Emissions

A bioeconomic analysis of the carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry systems: A case study of Grevillea robusta in South Western Uganda

2016 | Kiyingi I, Ocama D, Mujuni D, Nyombi K

This study estimated the amount of carbon sequestered and the profitability of carbon offsets in a Grevillea robusta woodlot and agroforestry management options under the Plan Vivo system and small-scale Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Carbon footprint of milk production from dairy cows in Australia

2014 | Gollnow S, Lundie S, Moore AD, McLaren J, van Buuren N, et al.

This journal article examined the carbon footprint of milk produced in Australia. It calculated the carbon footprint of average Australian milk to be 1.11 kg CO2e per kg fat and protein corrected milk (for 2009/2010), and identified feed conversion efficiency as the most important driver for the reduction of enteric methane emissions.

Carbon footprint of milk production under smallholder dairying in Anand district of Western India: a cradle-to-farm gate life cycle assessment

2016 | Garg MR, Phondba BT, Sherasia PL, Makkar HP

This journal article examined the carbon footprint of milk produced under the multi-functional smallholder dairy system in Anand district of western India by performing a cradle-to-farm gate life cycle assessment. It calculated the overall carbon footprint of milk production under this smallholder dairy system to be 2.2 kg CO2-eq/kg FPCM, and only 1.7 kg CO2-eq/kg FPCM if milk, manure, finance and insurance were considered to be economic functions of the smallholder system.

Country-specific emission factors for methane emission from enteric fermentation: a case study from a non-annex 1 country

2016 | Lokupitiya E

This case study explored the use of country-specific methane emission factors, developed using a Tier 2 approach and country-specific activity data, for estimating emissions from enteric fermentation in Sri Lanka. It found that the country-specific population-weighted emission factors for buffaloes, sheep, and dairy cows were lower than the IPCC default values while the country-specific population-weighted emission factor for other cattle categories was slightly higher.

The experience of Costa Rica related to MRV and the livestock sector

2016 | Jenkins A

This slideshow provides information on the experience of Costa Rica with measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) to detect mitigation impacts in livestock production systems. The purpose of sharing this experience is to aid in the identification of practical innovations related to activity data and emission factors.

Low-carbon development of the beef cattle sector in Uruguay

2016 | Oyhantçabal W

This slideshow provides information on the experience of Uruguay with low-carbon development of the beef cattle sector, and improving activity data and emission factors. The purpose of sharing this experience is to aid in the identification of practical innovations related to activity data and emission factors.

Making trees count in Africa: Improved MRV is needed to meet Africa’s agroforestry ambitions

2018 | Rosenstock T, Wilkes A, Courtney J, Namoi N, Bulusu M, Mboi D

The UNFCCC’s Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture creates an opportunity for agroforestry to become a key strategy in Africa’s response to climate change. This info note reviews measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of agroforestry under the UNFCCC and identifies a significant gap between national ambition and national ability to measure and report on agroforestry initiatives and established programs. A key takeaway is that strong support for agroforestry in African nations suggests that it should be a central strategy in the continent's response to climate change. However, only if agroforestry resources are included in MRV reports will these countries gain access to the finance and support needed to implement agroforestry as a climate change strategy.

Variation in the carbon footprint of milk production on smallholder dairy farms in central Kenya

2020 | Wilkes A, Wassie SE, Odhong' C, Fraval S, van Dijk S

This study estimated the carbon footprint (CF) of 382 farms in central Kenya with the aim of determining if different feeding systems cause significant differences in CF and identifying factors associated with variability in CF between farms. The goal of this analysis was to identify GHG mitigation options for dairy production in Kenya. It found that CF was mainly driven by milk yield, concentrate feed use, and herd structure. The average CF was found to be between 2.19 and 3.13 kg CO2e per kg fat and protein corrected milk, and the main mitigation option identified was improved concentrate feeding.

Finance & Incentives

Bridging organization in agricultural carbon markets and poverty alleviation: An analysis of pro-poor carbon market projects in East Africa

2016 | Lee J, Ingalls M, Erickson JD, Wollenberg E

This paper looked at eight East African agricultural carbon market projects to determine how project developers can successfully minimize mismatches in timing, payment, and knowledge in market transactions between carbon credit producers (smallholder farmers) and buyers. Projects, where the project developers provided non-monetary benefits or direct monetary assistance to farmers, were better at bridging the timing and payment gap, but knowledge gaps remained a significant barrier. The paper highlights the limitations, trade-offs, and challenges that must be overcome for both poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation outcomes to be realized.

Soil carbon stocks in tropical pasture systems in Colombia’s Orinoquía region: supporting readiness for climate finance

2021 | Villegas D, Bastidas M, Matiz-Rubio N, Ruden A, Rao I, et al.

Almost 30% of the total SOC stock was found in the top 0-20 cm soil layer; improving pasture systems have the potential to accumulate SOC, especially in the topsoil layers. Clay soils in Orinoquía shows a large potential for SOC sequestration through pasture improvement, at a rate which can be reduced over time once SOC stocks approach a steadier state. Future monitoring is critical to better understanding SOC changes in the region and validating findings. This can also be attractive for climate finance. Information can be provided to improve SOC estimation and implement SOC monitoring systems.

Sustainable beef certification scheme supported by research on low-emission technologies, monitoring more than 60,000 ha for beef production and forest conservation in Colombia


CIAT-CCAFS and Climate Focus created a technical and financial assistance center in Colombia (GANSO), which developed a voluntary
certification scheme now in place for sustainable beef production. The largest retailer in Colombia (Exito) already adopted it and started selling through its channels, facilitating market-based climate action.

Planning & Implementation

Application of Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) in Bangladesh Agriculture: Findings from case studies

2017 | Rahman MS, Sander BO

This study reviews the effects of AWD implementation in five locations in Bangladesh, measuring yield, irrigation use and cost. The report concludes with recommendations for scaling the use of AWD among farmers by increasing training programs and dissemination of knowledge for farmers and policymakers.

Climate-Based Suitability Assessment for Methane Mitigation by Water Saving Technology in Paddy Fields of the Central Plain of Thailand

2020 | Prangbang P, Yagi K, Aunario JKS, Sander BO, et al.

This study assessed the climatic suitability of AWD for paddy fields in Thailand. The maps produced by this analysis were used to determine the potential spatial and temporal boundaries of climatic and soil parameters that could impact the suitability of AWD in that area. They also assessed the CH4 mitigation potential in the target provinces. This methodology is extremely useful for guiding practitioners of water management for rice.

CommuniTree Carbon Program: Nicaragua

2021 | Plan Vivo

The CommuniTree Carbon Program uses reforestation to create long-term income opportunities for farmers in the Central America who are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The program aims to create long-term income opportunities from growing trees on underused farmland.

Countries’ commitments to soil organic carbon in Nationally Determined Contributions

2021 | Wiese L, Wollenberg E, Alácantara-Shivipatham V, Richards M, Shelton S, et al.

Sequestration of SOC (soil organic carbon) which is the major active pool of terrestrial carbon, may reduce the net annual greenhouse gas emissions (from agriculture, forestry, and other land use) between 3% and 71%; it will also support various ecosystem services. 184 countries that are members of the Paris Climate Agreement had their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC's) evaluated for mentions of SOCs, and their possible implementation was analyzed.

Meatless Monday Global Movement

2003 | Meatless Monday

The Meatless Monday movement began in 2003 in the US and has since spread around the world in over 40 countries and has been adapted to 22 languages. The movement is a good example of how collective grassroots movements can catalyze transformational changes. The website provides many resources from recipes to how to bring the movement to your country.


Assessment of agricultural policies to implement soil organic carbon commitments in NDCs

2021 | Weise-Rozanova L, Rose S, Wollenberg E, Costa C.

Evaluation of national agricultural policies in Brazil and Rwanda to check the domestic policies' contributions to the ambition of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement and the implementation of soil organic carbon (SOC) commitments for significant mitigation outcomes. Countries with agricultural policies which provide SOC-related mitigation strategies can increase NDC transparency by referring to these policies and actions in their NDCs. Additionally, Brazil's updated NDC set an economy-wide mitigation target from 2020-2030 and Rwanda developed SOC-related mitigation tactics and an MRV framework as part of the NDC update process.

Ghent en Garde: Creating Structural Change through Local Food Policy | Belgium

2013 | Ghent en Garder, Ghent, Belgium

This effective policy program was developed by the city of Ghent, Belgium and is one of the first of its kind. The policy aims to strengthen and increase short food supply chains, increase sustainable consumption and production, and provide better access to local food and reduce food waste. This program presents a strong example of the potential of local urban policy to transform the food system.

India’s new National Agroforestry Policy

2013 | Neufeldt H

This case study describes how ICRAF and partners contributed to the policy development process of India's agroforestry policy.