CEFC, the Australian government-owned clean energy finance corporation and global agricultural impact fund Kempen SDG Farmland Fund have each made a A$50m (€32m) cornerstone investment in a new vehicle managed by Gunn Agri Partners.

The Transforming Farming Platform will span mixed farming assets across the main cropping areas of Australia and will focus capital investment in underperforming small to medium farms to help lift productivity and optimise land use.

CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth, said: ”Smaller-scale, mixed-use Australian farms can reap considerable benefits by using data-backed best practice farming techniques to increase profitability and productivity while cutting their carbon footprint. This is a win-win development for farmers, agriculture and emissions reduction.”

The project has support from research groups such as Australia’s research institute, the CSIRO, and it aims to deliver energy efficiency improvements to farms, optimise production, soil carbon (capture), promote biodiversity and achieve other environmental outcomes.

Gunn Agri’s portfolio manager for the platform, Bradley Wheaton, said that the integration of agricultural and environmental management practices to generate market-linked returns was at the frontier of institutional investing in Australian agriculture.

“As agricultural asset managers for institutions, there is complete transparency in our financial performance,” he said. “What is ground-breaking here is that we have embedded the same accountability in the delivery of soil carbon, carbon in vegetation, emission reduction, biodiversity and other sustainability measures.”

The CEFC is an active investor in the agriculture sector, having committed more than A$500m to small and large-scale agricultural projects, including emerging soil carbon sequestration.

Kempen Capital Management, based in the Netherlands, set up the SDG Farmland Fund with Stichting Pensioenfonds PostNL in April this year, aiming to deliver attractive long-term returns by investing in farmland across the globe.

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