Analyses of Emissions & Mitigation Options in Agricultural Development

Analyses of the effects of low-emission practices on yields and greenhouse gas emissions in nine agriculture and food security projects suggest certain agricultural practices could lead to meaningful reductions in emissions while also supporting economic development and food security. CCAFS conducted project-based analyses using the Ex-Ante Carbon-Balance Tool (EX-ACT), an appraisal system developed by FAO to estimate the carbon impact of agriculture and forestry development projects. The analyses provide a foundation for understanding how agricultural lands contribute to emission reduction goals set for larger spatial scales like jurisdictions and nations, and how large agricultural development projects have the potential to contribute meaningfully.

USAID has also contributed to the development of the CCAFS-Mitigation Options Tool. CCAFS-MOT estimates greenhouse gas emissions from crop, livestock, agroforestry and rice management systems by country or geographic region. The tool ranks mitigation options for each system according to mitigation potential and compatibility with food production, and in relation to current management practices and climate and soil characteristics. CCAFS-MOT suggests options based on empirical models and data from more than a dozen research studies. 

CCAFS-MOT provides information needed to prioritize and make science-informed decisions about low-emissions options in agriculture. It is designed for:

  • Policymakers and advisors to identify an expanded range of mitigation options and priorities to inform country commitments to emission reductions
  • Project managers and development agencies to record and report on greenhouse gas emission reductions from the implementation of low-emission agricultural practices
  • Communicators to engage stakeholders in the concepts of climate change adaptation and mitigation, food security and sustainability in agriculture



Analyses of agricultural development projects
Synthesis Journal Article
About the CCAFS-MOT
Inputs and Outputs

In this Excel-based tool, users enter data and information on country or geographic region, climate, soil characteristics (e.g. type, texture, pH, bulk density), crop type and yield, farming practices (e.g. irrigation, fertilizer, soil management), livestock type and production system. CCAFS-MOT then estimates the greenhouse gas emissions per hectare and per yield and provides a list of management options to reduce emissions ranked by estimates of emissions (total greenhouse gases emitted per area and per unit of production.)

The tool accommodates a range of users by providing simplified and detailed data input options.


CCAFS-MOT suggests mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon in the agriculture sector but does not yet provide information on the impact of these practices on crop yields, costs of implementation or synergies with adaptation to climate change. The tool is completely usable in its current form, but is still being improved.

Accessing the Tool and Additional Information

CCAFS-MOT is occasionally updated to include the most recent information in the sector and to improve functionality based on user feedback.

The tool was developed and supported by a diverse partnership that includes the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the University of Aberdeen, the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Environment.


Julianna White

CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)