The Rockefeller Foundation has announced grants totaling more than $11 million to 10 organisations working to scale indigenous and regenerative agriculture practices around the world.
The funding will be used to scale up the development, data analysis, financing, and education surrounding regenerative agricultural practices, which can improve global food systems and mitigate the global food crisis.
The Meridian Institute will receive the largest grant, which will build on the work of Regen10, a global coalition formed to answer the question of what it would take to produce 50 per cent of the world’s food in ways that benefit people, nature, and the climate by 2030.
The initiative will directly assist food producers and landscape stewards in adopting and scaling regenerative practices, as well as collaborate with other organisations to better define and measure the impacts of regenerative agriculture.
Regen10 will assist landscape leaders practicing or advancing regenerative agriculture in gaining access to financing, technical assistance, and data by bridging outcomes measurement with landscape-level demonstrations.
The Foundation also contributes to Indigenous Peoples’ Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Food Systems.
The Amazon Conservation Team will use the grant to advance and monitor indigenous agroforestry and regenerative agricultural practices in two tropical South American landscapes through a community-led approach.
Traditional elders, women, and youth from the Andean Amazon and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta will be involved in the project (which is currently dominated by palm oil monocropping). The grant will facilitate communication between the two communities as they link biodiversity conservation, ecosystem management, and sustainable agriculture.
The Deep Medicine Circle will also be supported in its Farming as Medicine program by returning land to Indigenous People, recognizing farmers as health stewards, elevating evidence of Indigenous food systems’ regenerative impacts, decommodifying food, and removing fruits, herbs, and vegetables from the market economy and returning them to a system of care.
The grant will help to manage indigenous land on the 38-acre Te Kwe A’naa Warep (Honour Mother Earth) farm in rural Ramaytush territory (San Gregorio, California).
Working with indigenous youths in Northeast India, Northern Thailand, Mau Forest, Kenya, and Quintana Roo, Mexico, the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty demonstrates how people and landscapes thrive through Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems.
The organization will provide training, capacity building, and network support to a cadre of skilled and passionate Indigenous Peoples Youths who will serve as the foundation for future activities. In addition, the grant will help fund a global Indigenous Regenerative Food Systems Summit in 2024.
RSF Social Finance is donating to the Pawanka Fund, which aims to strengthen collaboration among community-oriented non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Kenya, Brazil, Nigeria, Fiji, and Canada.
The non-governmental organisations will collaborate with their communities to run the Indigenous Food Systems Solution Lab and provide microgrants to the most promising Indigenous-led and locally developed regenerative agriculture solutions. Lessons from various countries and contexts will be shared.
Regenerative Data and Networks Grants
Dalberg Catalyst to make a package of climate-smart agricultural technologies available to African smallholder farmers and to determine the carbon price required for farmers to benefit. Solar irrigation systems, biodigesters, and soil carbon measurements are all included in the package.
The project aims to overcome market barriers to the adoption of climate-smart practices and demonstrate that smallholder farmers can contribute significantly to climate solutions.
Through the North American-based 1000 Farms Initiative, the Ecdysis Foundation will create a Fellowship for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color to train under-represented groups in regenerative agriculture and related science.
In addition, the project will collect and analyse farm-level data on yield, profitability, biodiversity, water quality, and other factors related to sustainable regenerative agricultural practices on 1,000 farms in the United States before expanding globally.
This information will also be used by the Foundation-funded Periodic Table of Food Initiative (PTFI), which is working to create a global public database of the biochemical composition and function of foods grown under various conditions.
Smallholder Data Services will collect and analyze data from smallholder farmers practicing regenerative agriculture in Southeast Asia, South America, and the Caribbean, ensuring that their experience and voice are fully represented in regenerative agriculture’s ongoing development. This data will be synthesized into recommendations, best practices, and guidelines for global use by the project.
Scaling and Regenerative Impact Grants
AGRA will work to increase the availability of biofortified foods (iron- and zinc-rich beans and vitamin A-enriched maize) for institutional markets in Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania, with a focus on school meals that will reach 1.2 million children. The project will restore soil health across a larger area planted with nitrogen-fixing beans.
The Naandi Foundation will implement a home-grown economic model for regenerative agriculture in India as an alternative to the current system, which has resulted in 35.5 percent of children under the age of five being stunted and 67.1 percent anemic.
Using a True Cost Accounting framework, the project will support the testing and scaling of regenerative, nourishing food systems.
Furthermore, the project will provide evidence of the ability to incorporate regeneratively produced food into India’s Public Distribution System of subsidised foods, a procurement system that serves approximately 800 million people.
The funding is part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s USD 105 million commitment to make healthy and sustainable foods more accessible globally by March 2022. Aside from regenerative agriculture, the Foundation’s initiative is revolutionizing nutrition science and collaborating with governments to transition food procurement programs for school meals, which serve 388 million children worldwide, to whole grains and other healthy foods. Other Good Food work envisions the future food system and supports visionaries in the food system.
Regenerative agriculture, which has its roots in Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge and food systems, takes a holistic approach to production that begins with the soil and includes human, animal, and environmental health.
These grants, taken together, will lay the groundwork for rapidly scaling regenerative approaches by 2030, ranging from Indigenous agroforestry in the Amazon to carbon-market financing for smallholder farmers in Africa and elsewhere.
“Regenerative agriculture offers a needed alternative to dominant, extractive food systems that have threatened people and planet alike,” said Sara Farley, Vice President of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Global Food Portfolio. “Our goal is to develop the know-how, networks and innovations needed to realize the full potential of regenerative agriculture at a moment of crises and climate change.”
Food systems account for roughly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, and agricultural expansion is responsible for nearly 90% of global deforestation. But new research finds that shifting to more sustainable food systems could contribute roughly 20% of the global mitigation needed by 2050 to keep temperature increases below the 1.5°C target. This change has the potential to improve the nutrition and health of 3.1 billion people who cannot currently afford a healthy diet.
Roy Steiner, Senior Vice President for the Foundation’s Food Initiative said, food systems affect every person on the planet as well as the planet itself.
“Continuing to rely solely on conventional approaches cannot generate the profound shifts needed to improve food systems. The integration of traditional knowledge with other scientific and technological knowledge can transform food systems to be more resilient, nutritious, and equitable.”
Though we are still learning, said Betty Kibaara, Director of the Food Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Regional Office. “These sorts of approaches promote resilient and nourishing food systems.”
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