Archived Webinar

Digital Ag Learning Series - Linking Smallholder Farmers to the Voluntary Carbon Market

"Application of Innovative Remote Sensing Measurements to Generate Carbon Removal Units in Agroforestry at Scale"

Acorn – Agroforestry Carbon Removal Units (CRUs) for the Organic Restoration of Nature is an agroforestry program that unlocks smallholder farmers' international voluntary carbon market. Acorn's mission is to combat climate change, land degradation, and food insecurity with an inclusive agroforestry solution. This solution balances competing for land-use demands in a way that benefits both human well-being and the environment. This means land use that has a positive impact on food supply and livelihoods, the economy, environmental restoration, climate targets, and development goals.

To do this, Acorn has built a global, transparent, and technology-enabled marketplace for carbon sequestration. This marketplace provides entry to the international carbon market for smallholder farmers who are realizing agroforestry projects for carbon sequestration through biomass growth, predominantly through trees, which is measured with the help of satellite monitoring. Acorn supports the initiation and development of these agroforestry projects and facilitates the subsequent trade of the so-called carbon removal units (CRUs) that are generated from the sequestered carbon. As such, the program:

  • is accessible for smallholder farmers on a large scale
  • ensures suitable agroforestry systems which capture sufficient carbon and provide decent income to smallholder farmers
  • embraces innovative technologies
  • encourages the sale of ex-post carbon removal units

Accurate satellite monitoring technologies, including satellite imagery and a transparent measurement methodology, are crucial to the economic viability of the Acorn program. The Acorn methodology allows for various approaches to developing such models and includes requirements to ensure that carbon benefit estimates are robust and conservative. This way considers rapid developments in earth observation technology and reduces dependency on standalone methods or tools.

In the coming years, Acorn will support hundreds of projects, helping individual smallholder farmers switch to agroforestry by compensating them for their contribution to our world’s ecosystem. By 2025, Acorn aims to support millions of such farmers. To do this, Acorn is partnering with dozens of local organizations around the globe: NGOs, farmers’ co-ops, trading companies, big processors (e.g., coffee, cocoa), governments, funds, and more.

The following topics will be discussed during the session:

  • What are project and partner criteria? 
  • How does the Acorn Framework and Methodology, developed with Plan Vivo, look at eligibility and additionality? 
  • How are carbon models to measure tree biomass using satellite imagery developed and applied? 
  • What are the developments toward high-quality credits in the voluntary carbon market? 

About the Presenters

Parmesh Shah

Global Lead, Data-Driven Digital Agriculture, Agriculture, and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Parmesh Shah is the Global Lead for Data-Driven Digital Agriculture at the World Bank. He provides leadership to Bank’s work in these areas and supports the development of global knowledge and learning in these areas to offer solutions to clients and other development partners. His current areas of interest are making markets and public services work for the poor, social entrepreneurship, digital and data-based innovations in agriculture and rural development, climate-smart agriculture, agriculture and technology enabled start-ups, venture and patient capital for innovation, promotion of on-farm, off-farm and digital jobs and public-private and people partnerships for rural poverty reduction. He is currently involved in developing a global program on scaling up data-driven digital agriculture involving data platforms and establishing ecosystems for innovation, entrepreneurship and incubation. He holds a D Phil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a B.Tech degree in Agricultural Engineering from Pantnagar in India. 

Martine Jansen

Head of Partnerships, Acorn

Martine Jansen is the Head of Partnerships at Acorn and is responsible for the relationships with NGOs, COOPs, governments, and corporates that support large groups of smallholders in agroforestry by providing technical assistance and other expertise. Acorn is a marketplace that is created to link farmers to corporates wishing to offset their carbon emissions with high-quality, traceable credits. Prior to this, Martine worked for Rabo Foundation as a Program Manager providing high-risk loans to farmer-based organizations and later as a Sr. Innovation Manager focusing on using data and technology to improve the access and quality of services to smallholder farmers. She started her career in commercial banking.

Eline Kajim

Head of Certification, Acorn

Eline Kajim is responsible for ensuring high-quality carbon project certification within Acorn. After completing her Master of Change Management at the University of Groningen, Eline started working at Rabobank where she pursues a carrier in Innovation. She is dedicated to putting her expertise and knowledge into practice to accelerate sustainable business models. At COP26 in Glasgow, Eline announced the Acorn Framework & Small-scale Agroforestry Methodology that Acorn developed for program-level certification.

Emma van de Ven

Strategy and Research Lead, Acorn

Emma van de Ven builds successful business models that help create a healthier world. She loves a good challenge, and she doesn’t shy away from commercial successes to achieve idealist goals.

Mila Luleva

Head of Remote sensing, Acorn

Mila Luleva holds a Ph.D. in Imaging Spectroscopy and Remote Sensing. She has worked as a Remote Sensing and Environmental consultant and led research and development teams across Europe and Africa. She is now the new Head of Remote Sensing at Rabobank, working with smallholder farmers in Africa and Latin America, encouraging them to adopt restoration and reforestation practices with the goal to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Jelmer van de Mortel

Head, Acorn

Jelmer van de Mortel works for Rabobank to develop innovative, meaningful, and pragmatic solutions in the Food & Agri domain. He is responsible for project Acorn, which supports smallholder farmers in the transition to agroforestry that helps them with additional income from Carbon Removal Units that are verified with the help of remote sensing to allow for scale. As a former strategy consultant, he has ample experience in bringing strategy into practice. During his period at World Food Programme, he experienced farmer needs in developing countries firsthand.

William Sutton

Global Lead for Climate-Smart Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

William R. Sutton is Global Lead for Climate-Smart Agriculture and the Lead Agricultural Economist in the World Bank’s Agriculture & Food Global Practice. He has worked for over 25 years to promote sustainable development by integrating across sectors—including agriculture, environment, and climate change—and leading both investment and analytical projects in East Asia & the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa. Until recently he coordinated the World Bank's climate-smart and sustainable agriculture programs in China, including preparing the innovative Hubei Smart and Sustainable Agriculture Project. He also led studies in five Southeast Asian countries to better understand and build resilience to the El Niño Southern Oscillation in agri-food systems. He is currently the Team Leader for the GEF-financed Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) Global Platform. Dr. Sutton has authored dozens of journal articles, reports, and books, including Looking Beyond the Horizon: How Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Responses Will Reshape Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He was awarded the World Bank Green Award in 2011 in recognition of his innovative work on climate change and agriculture.  Dr. Sutton holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Davis. 

Ademola Braimoh

Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist, Agriculture, and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Dr. Ademola Braimoh has expertise in agriculture and rural development, integrated landscape management, and resilience of ecosystems and people to global change. Dr. Braimoh studied at the Center for Development Research, the University of Bonn in Germany, and at the University of Cambridge in England. Prior to joining the World Bank, he worked as the Executive Director of the Global Land Project in Japan where he focused on climate mitigation and resilience of the Agriculture and Forestry Sectors. Dr. Braimoh serves as a Task Team Leader for land based carbon projects, and as a Coordinator for the Climate-Smart Agriculture portfolio in World Bank’s Africa Region.

​Rama Chandra Reddy

Senior Environmental Economist, Environment, Natural Resources & Blue Economy, MENA Region, The World Bank

Rama Chandra Reddy is the Senior Environmental Economist in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region of the Environment, Natural Resource, and Blue Economy Global Practice at the World Bank. He leads environment, natural resources, and climate change work programs in the MENA region. Prior to this, he served as a Senior Carbon Finance Specialist in the Climate Change Group for over 10 years and led work programs on climate policy, finance, methodology, regulatory, monitoring  and operational priorities of climate change mitigation programs in agriculture, and forestry, energy and other sectors. His pre-Bank experience includes leading the design and implementation of large sub-national and national programs, policy dialogue, and public and private sector engagement in the environment and natural resource sectors in India. He holds a Ph.D. in Resource Economics from Bangor University, UK.

Joel Brounen

Solidaridad´s Country Manager, Colombia 

Joel Brounen is Solidaridad´s Country Manager in Colombia leading the work in the area of digital solutions, blended finance, and continuous improvement models for sustainable supply chains. He has developed multiple partnerships with renowned companies in the food and agro sector. As a researcher, he has contributed to multiple articles on sustainable production and markets. Currently, he focuses on new concepts to measure and monetize the impact of sustainability strategies in the agriculture sector. Joel has a Master’s degree in Sustainability Leadership from the University of Cambridge and a Master’s degree in International Economics from the University of Utrecht. 

Questions Submitted


- Oct 19, 2022
The carbon market is still questionable in favor of African smallholder farmers involved in carbon sequestration by planting trees and safeguarding forestry. Otherwise, the carbon sequestratoon driven income for those smallholders farmers should be more tremendous and promising in many countries of Sub-saharan area of Africa where tree's biomass is remarquable in rural areas. The expected transparent carbone market should be a milestone for garnering new kind of agro-forestry revenue as well as being an effective motivation and incentive for halting the desertification progress in Africa.


- Jul 20, 2022


- Jun 23, 2022


- Jun 2, 2022
This is an excellent approach in attracting people to plant trees. A noble way to achieve forest cover.


- May 17, 2022

Mahaman Mourtala

- May 9, 2022


- May 8, 2022
Very interesting.

jose luis

- Apr 30, 2022
Muy Bueno
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