EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT: USAID to host investor webinar on regenerative farming in Southeast Asia
May 13, 2021 (BANGKOK) – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is co-hosting an investment webinar on May 19 with the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) on agriculture practices in Southeast Asia that help restore degraded soil, increasing commodity yields and farmer profits.
The event features experts drawn from both farming and finance to speak about investment trends in an area that has drawn increasing interest.
As climate change projections grow ever more dire, more corporates and financiers have turned to farming practices known as “regenerative farming” – such as growing cover crops, planting multiple types of crops together, rotating crops, and reducing tilling. In addition to improving soil health, these methods have proven to capture (sequester) more carbon, trapping it from being released into the atmosphere. Experts estimate commercial agriculture is responsible for about 30 percent of global carbon emissions, but that percentage is even higher in Southeast Asia. The region includes countries that are leading producers of natural rubber, coconut, rice and coffee.
“Producers will be the first to tell you: there is only so much you can force out of the land while trying to multiply supply to fulfill buyer demand,” said Christy Owen, head of USAID Green Invest Asia, which helps agriculture and forestry companies in Southeast Asia reduce their carbon footprints, improve how corporates source, and help suppliers connect with investors to finance environmentally-friendly operations. “We are at a point where to stay in business, all parts of the agricultural supply chain need to strategize how to give back to the land,” said Owen. The planet’s agricultural land has become so depleted that the United Nations predicts there are only about 60 growing seasons left until the world’s soil can no longer grow crops.
Featured in the event are representatives from a U.S. organic coconut water company sourcing from Thailand, Harmless Harvest; the international sustainable consulting group Quantis; investors from Spruce Capital and Silverstrand Capital; and an impact measurement system to support climate goals called IRIS+. Panelists will discuss models in coconut, coffee and cacao cultivation that some USAID Green Invest Asia partners are already deploying, while investors will share constraints and opportunities for investing in regenerative agriculture.
A mid-2019 report focused on the United States, Soil Wealth, analyzed growing interest in regenerative food system investment. In the United States alone, the report identified some $321 billion in managed assets that explicitly integrate sustainable food criteria in their investment strategies, including $47.5 billion linked specifically to regenerative agriculture.