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Yara’s New Business: Feeding World and Protecting Planet

Agricultural carbon markets are on the rise. And the most far-reaching initiative is coming from chemical company and provider of crop nutrition solutions Yara International ASA. Spanning three regional units (Africa and Asia, the Americas, and Europe), operating in over 60 countries, and positioning itself as “the industry’s only global crop nutrition company,” Yara is perfectly situated to create and provide foundational support for a truly global carbon marketplace. Founded in 1905 to help address the famine attacking Europe, “for more than a century, Yara has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with farmers, helping them optimize yield and quality,” Alex Bell, Vice President of Global Crop Solutions & Business Management, says. In time for the company’s 75th anniversary in North America, Yara will use its new business to continue its mission to “responsibly feed the world and protect the planet.” 

Oslo, Norway. Image provided by Kamil Tatol, Unsplash. 

Yara announced the launch of its carbon market, the Agoro Carbon Alliance, on May 7, 2021. The marketplace will encourage farmers to contribute to the decarbonization of the agricultural sector and food value chain by adopting “climate-positive practices” or “climate-smart certified crops.” Participating farmers will see rewards in the agricultural marketplace, attracting environmentally conscious consumers and increasing crop yields. They will also be rewarded by the Agoro Carbon Alliance, where they will earn third-party certified Farm Carbon Credits in exchange for their “carbon crop.” They can then sell those credits to companies that want to offset emissions, resulting in another stream of “sustainability income.” The company differentiates their market from alternatives, though: “we’re the only carbon cropping initiative built on an active network of global partnerships, knowledge sharing, and transparency that enables farmers to adopt climate-positive practices that add new revenue streams to their operations.” Plus, they truly consider themselves to be partners to the farmers: in the words of Terje Knutsen, Executive Vice President of Farming Solutions, “the farmer is at the center of everything we do at Yara. So we’ve designed Agoro Carbon to fit farmers’ needs, and how we can best support them as a trusted partner.”

Agoro Carbon will help farmers get the most out of the program by putting everything they have learned over 115 years to us and leaving the ultimate decisions in the farmers’ hands – like how many acres of land to utilize and which sustainable practices to adopt. Global agronomist at Agoro, Yebin Zhao, told Brownfield Ag News that some of their recommendations will include cover cropping and nitrogen use management – “we look into the farmer’s nitrogen, the whole program to see where they can optimize the nitrogen use efficiency.” Bell elaborated to World Agri-Tech that “through Yara’s knowledge and solutions, we can address 70 percent of the carbon footprint in a crop like corn.” 

Image provided by Luke Thornton, Unsplash. 

The company ran a pilot last year via a carbon market team that has since expanded to 30 employees in 4 regions: Brazil, Europe, India, and the United States.  In the US, Yara has been working with farmers to generate the first Farm Carbon Credits, with registered farmers on 24,000 acres in states like Iowa, Nebraska, and Washington. Bell notes that “it is from the pilot program that we’ll learn about the risks and benefits to changing farmer practices, and we’ll also have the opportunity to hear directly from farmers on their program thoughts.” And as Managing Director of Agoro Carbon Alliance US, Anastasia Pavlovic, said in the press release, “We have launched our first projects to an enthusiastic response from farmers, farmer groups, and retailers and we are looking forward to bringing this opportunity to more farmers in the coming months.” 

Iowa farm. Image provided by Austin Goode, Unsplash. 

A virtual global launch event was held on June 8, 2021, which you can watch here. The names of companies that have committed to buying carbon credits from Agoro will be announced later this summer. But whether you are a farmer, an investor, or a company which is considering partnering up, Yara “actively invite[s] players that bring in relevant capabilities—from carbon innovation to local farmer knowledge, to global platforms or technology capabilities that will join forces. We want to share the value of something much bigger than we could build on our own.” 


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