Smallholder Farm Extension: The Low-Hanging Fruit for Increased Soil Organic Carbon


Sustainable Harvest International


Florence Reed



Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) provides regenerative agroecology technical assistance to low-income families in support of improving their diets, income and health, while simultaneously restoring degraded lands, protecting water sources, increasing biodiversity and stabilizing the climate.  To date, SHI has helped 3,000 families in four countries successfully adopt regenerative agroecology practices, including the planting of 4 million trees on 30,000 acres of previously degraded land. If all 500 million of the world’s smallholder farms used the practices taught by SHI on their farms, they would drawdown six billion tons of CO2 annually.  Most smallholder farmers in the Global South have little to lose and much to gain from this transition and need only adequate technical assistance to make the transition.  With that in mind, SHI has set a scaling up goal to reverse land degradation on 3 million hectares and achieve food security for 5 million people on a million farms by 2030, through continued direct work with farmers and through replicating partnerships.


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Further information

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Clients / Target group

Beginning in Honduras in 1997 and later expanding to Panama, Nicaragua and Belize, SHI's multi-year extension program has helped 3,000 low-income, rural families to adopt regenerative agriculture practices on 30,000 acres of land including the planting of 4 million trees.  This has improved the diet, income and health of 15,000 family members, while also reversing the degradation of soils, protecting water sources, preserving natural ecosystems, increasing biodiversity and stabilizing the climate. 

Each family that chooses to participate in our program receives frequent, technical assistance from their field trainer. Visits and trainings are tailored to each participant's goals, preferences, and abilities with new skills and knowledge building upon each other and that of the program participants.  Our current five-phase program supports one field trainer visiting each of approximately 30 farms every week or two for four years and also leading occasional workshops for groups of farmers in participating communities.

SHI's model has proven successful in four countries, in different climatic regions and with different ethnic groups. 

Established collaborations and partnerships

SHI has an MOU with the Jungle Project to explore a replicating and earned-income partnership to support each other's desired outcomes by pairing our regenerative agriculture training with their regenerative foods business.  SHI also has a history of successful coordinating partnerships with organization such as the United States Peace Corps, Engineers Without Borders and Global Brigades.  We collaborate with others through networks such as 4 per 1000, Regeneration International, the 20x20 Initiative and the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration.

Desired collaborations and partnerships

While some expansion of SHI’s own program is desired and could be reached through greater efficiency and additional income, it is anticipated that replication by partners offers the greatest opportunity for scaling up SHI’s global impact.  Government agencies such as agriculture ministries are likely to have the most access to resources, broadest reach and greatest staying power. Larger NGOs, universities and businesses may offer similar benefits, though to a lesser degree, but also a potentially greater openness to SHI’s model.  An intermediary organization such as Millennium Institute, UNDP or IFAD could play a key role in connecting SHI, as the originating organization, to potential adopting organizations, as well as to funders. 

Panama's minister for the environment and Belize's agriculture ministry have already expressed interest in our model during initial exploratory meetings. The Millennium Institute has met with us several times and is ready to consider a partnership where they could act as an intermediary organization for us, while we could provide them with agroecology extension consultations.  The Grameen Foundation is interested in developing a small pilot with us to see whether a hybrid of our two programs could produce more impactful and cost-efficient outcomes.  

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  File Modified
PDF File 2021.04 4 per 1000.pdf May 03, 2021 by Florence Reed
PDF File SHI Overview Fact Sheet 2020.pdf Apr 27, 2021 by Florence Reed
PDF File The T.R.E.E. Program.pdf Apr 27, 2021 by Florence Reed


  1. Thank you for sharing with everyone the work you are doing with small holder farmers. I would like to invite you to visit our Stand 19 - Agripower Australia, to learn about the benefits that silicon fertiliser has for conservation agriculture, soil and plant health, and carbon sequestration. Please leave a message for us if you would like to meet and talk more! 

    1. Thank you for reaching out.  I will share your website with our program staff.

  2. Good evening. I am Dr. Nandini from BAIF Development Research Foundation, India. We are participating in this virtual EU Fair and have shared our work on 'Soil restoration for achieving sustainable livelihoods, climate change adaptation and mitigation' through stand no 37. Please do visit our stand for understanding the work in India. 

    This is also to share with you all that we have planned a sharing event on 25th May between 14.00 to 15.00 IST (+/- 5.5 UTC). The topic of this sharing event is 'Environmentally sound and climate smart program interventions through BAIF Development Research Foundation', India. It will be based on BAIF, India's efforts on ground to build resilience of vulnerable farming communities against climate change effects by introducing on ground, the multisectorial program interventions for resilient farming system.

    So, please participate for enriching knowledge!  See you there! 

    1. I'm sorry I missed your event but would like to connect.  You can email me at

  3. Hello Ms. Reed/Sustainable Harvest International team,

    Hope you are doing fine! I am the COO of ConserWater Technologies (Stand #63), where we work with farmers across the world to help them get paid for increases in soil carbon, through internationally-certified carbon credits. We use satellites and AI to directly measure soil carbon without using any soil sampling. This enables us to work today across 3M+ acres of farms globally, unlocking 10M+ tons of carbon credits, which we certify and sell to big companies in the US and Europe at scale. We would like to explore working with you to help your farmers double their income through increasing soil carbon and carbon credits! 



    1. Thanks.   We'd be interested in discussing this opportunity.  Please write me at, and I'll introduce you to the appropriate people on our team.

  4. Keep up with the good work.