CarbonFarm eyes tie-up with SEARCA

CARBONFARM is eyeing possible collaboration with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) on innovative and profitable climate solutions for agriculture.

SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio said CarbonFarm is a French climate-tech startup established in 2022 that harnesses satellite imagery and artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor and certify decarbonization projects.

CarbonFarm Chief Executive Officer Vassily Carantino and James Hastwell, chief technology officer, visited SEARCA on Oct. 26, 2023. Both have worked with academic and research institutions such as Cornell University, the European Space Agency, AgroParisTech and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Also with them was Craig Jamieson, director and founder of Straw Innovations Ltd.

Gregorio said the visitors were welcomed by Nur Azura Binti Adam, SEARCA deputy director for programs, and joining the meeting were Gerlie Tatlonghari, Research and Thought Leadership program head; Bernice Anne de Torres, SEARCA Research and Thought Leadership program specialist; Ma. Christina Corales, SEARCA Emerging Innovation for Growth program specialist and partnerships unit staff.

During the meeting, Carantino shared an overview of their company and services saying, "CarbonFarm simplifies rice carbon projects with satellite-based MRV (monitoring, reporting and verification)."

Hastwell also explained how satellites can streamline data collection in smallholder farm settings by detecting farming activity data including irrigation practices, cropping dates, yield estimates, residue burning occurrence and direct-seeded rice use versus transplanting.

"By using satellite-based MRV and AI models, handling their certification and selling their credits, we make access to carbon markets easy for farmers and agribusinesses," Carantino added.

The CarbonFarm team also introduced some of their projects that included its partnership with IRRI, Rikolto and the Australian government's for Vietnam's first rice carbon project. It said the partnership focuses on training and supporting 2,000 rice producers to reduce emission practices.

CarbonFarm also supports the first project on Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement implemented by the United Nations Development Program, which aims to educate rice farmers in Ghana on farming practices that reduce carbon footprint and release lower methane emissions.

Corales informed the CarbonFarm team of SEARCA's upcoming capacity-building activity on carbon measurement MRV systems this November.

She said the activity focuses on hands-on exercises to familiarize the participants with the Carbon Wise Rice Information Management System, a web-based MRV tool that allows farmers to input farm activity data that are then used to calculate carbon emissions.

Highlighting the importance of combining AI-collected and manually collected data in the transparent and accurate monitoring of farm practices, Carantino emphasized CarbonFarm's vision to make farmers' lives easier.

"We want less work for farmers because from what we've experienced, they would be disinterested if they were asked to do additional work. They believed they [had] better things to do than report [their activities]," he explained.

Meanwhile, de Torres also discussed SEARCA's scoping study on the status of adopting nature-based carbon farming practices in producing high-value crops in eight of the 11 Southeast Asian countries.

She mentioned some significant crops that may be examined including rice, oil palm, rubber, coconut, banana, sugarcane, pineapple, black pepper, maize, cocoa, durian and jackfruit.

Expressing interest in collaborating with CarbonFarm, Nur said SEARCA is delighted "to engage with you and help your initiatives if we can."