BenBen, Oko Forests, and FCDO collaborate to enhance land tenure security in carbon credit projects


BenBen and Oko Forests are collaborating with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to explore the role of blockchain technology in securing land and tree tenure within carbon credit investments in Ghana. The collaboration is being facilitated through the FCDO’s Frontiers Livestreaming (FTL) Programme, which is run by the FCDO Research and Evidence (RED) Innovation and Technology Hub.

The two organisations are working with the FCDO to explore use of blockchain technology in de-risking and safeguarding investments into carbon credit projects in Africa.

Smallholder farmers produce a third of the world’s food supply, yet receive only 1.7 percent in global climate investments. In Africa alone, this represents over 33 million smallholder farmers and 600 million hectares of arable land that are left out of the global climate investment market space.

Compounded with near-zero transparency on land rights, and unaligned interests between community land owners and investors, the US$23billion African agricultural carbon finance market has largely been branded as high-risk and non-transparent to investors.

This partnership represents a significant step forward in the use of digital technologies to safeguard smallholder farmer agri-carbon investments in Ghana.

The FTL Programme, run by the FCDO Research and Evidence (RED) Innovation and Technology Hub, is supporting BenBen and Oko Forests in developing a case study for the application of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and web3 technologies in reducing the land rights risks pertaining to climate investments in customary-owned agricultural land in Ghana.

“We are excited to be working with the FCDO on this important initiative,” said Mr. Noah, CEO of BenBen. “We believe that our solution has the potential to greatly benefit smallholder farmers and their respective communities as well as carbon credit investors, by providing tamper-proof, auditable and transparent records of project-level tree tenure and land-use rights. Our aim is to empower land-rights holders with legal proof and administrative evidence of their rights,” he added.

The collaboration seeks to explore the efficacy of Keva – BenBen’s land rights MRV technology platform – in de-risking investments over Oko Forest’s approximately 3,000 hectare agri-carbon credits project area.

By leveraging blockchain protocols for facilitating carbon credit project land governance and carbon credit pay-out processes, Keva is able to provide agri-carbon market actors access to transparent and trusted land tenure profiles, and semi-annual status updates in African agri-carbon projects.

CEO of Oko Forests, Kofi Debrah said: “This collaboration with BenBen and the FCDO allows us to explore new ways of using technology to benefit smallholder farmers and make climate investments in Africa more attractive and secure”.

By consolidating tree ownership rights, land-use rights and land governance decisions into a single publicly accessible layer, Keva aims to eliminate land ownership risk premiums and facilitate the equitable distribution of economic returns to potentially over 33 million smallholder farmers in Africa.

The FTL programme is committed to supporting the development and implementation of innovative solutions for addressing global challenges, and BenBen and Oko Forests’ collaboration fits within this mission.

“We are pleased to be working with BenBen and Oko Forests on this important initiative. We believe that their solution has the potential to greatly improve land-rights transparency and reduce risk in the African agri-carbon market, ultimately benefitting smallholder farmers and carbon credit investors. We look forward to supporting their work and seeing the impact it can have,” said Georgina Barker, Ghana Forest and Agriculture-FCDO.

This collaboration is a major step forward in enhancing Africa’s land-based climate investment landscape, and has the potential to revolutionise the way in which smallholder farmer agri-carbon projects are sourced, funded and managed. We look forward to seeing the impact and success of this innovative partnership in promoting a more secure and transparent investment landscape in Africa.

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