In Guatemala we study a coffee project which earns carbon credits through its organic practices. Compared to conventional largescale coffee production, the organic practices of smallholder farmers in the north of Guatemala provide a number of environmental benefits by capturing and storing carbon dioxide in biomass and soils. Additionally, these practices save on conventional fertiliser use and increase energy efficiency on the farm.
In this study, we focus on two local coffee cooperatives in Guatemala: Cooperativa Nahualá and Cooperativa Renacimiento, which both took part in the payment for ecosystem services pilot project with the Educational Corporation for Costa Rican Development (CEDECO) and Hivos in 2013. CEDECO facilitates the project, currently still in its pilot phase, and has created the CamBio2 methodology to quantify the carbon dioxide captured in soil and biomass and issue credits.
The methodology claims carbon credits for farmers’ retrospective good practices in agriculture; this approach is taken in order to break the paradigm – predominant in PES schemes – of rewarding the heaviest polluter for improving their practices, rather than rewarding those who had not contributed to pollution in the first place. Nearly 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) greenhouse gases were fixed by 40 farmers on 8.13 hectares of land.