Believe it or not, we started out as an ant farming company. (Hence the name “GreenAnt.”)
Weaver ants—pinkish insects with a green-colored queen—are a natural alternative to chemical pesticides. In January 2022, when we launched our first pilot program in Thailand, with support from the Thai government, we planned to work with local farmers to help them cultivate these ants. We hoped to spur organic agricultural practices and put an end to the chemicals ravaging the health of the surrounding environment and population.
Soon after we arrived, we realized that we had misunderstood the problem. Pesticides were being used not for lack of a natural alternative, but because farmers could not afford organic practices. They were structurally shut out from financial markets and banking systems and unable to acquire the necessary loans. We were even told that a mafia-style pesticide distribution network had cropped up; for many farmers, there was no choice but to use destructive chemicals.
So we pivoted. It was clear that GreenAnt had to focus on empowering farmers with capital if we were to fulfill our mission statement. One night, we floated the idea of tree tokenization: Farmers could tokenize their (pesticide-free) trees, turning them into carbon offset commodities, and get direct access to capital in return. The next day, 50 farmers were lined up outside our building, eager to get started.
We’ve come a long way since our first days in Thailand…
Much of the current climate crisis is driven by the simple fact that, at the moment, sustainable practices are less profitable than non-sustainable ones. There is more financial incentive to mow down a forest and create flat, “productive” land than there is incentive to protect its trees and its carbon absorption capacity. Similarly, like we found in Thailand, smaller-scale farmers often cannot afford to tend to their land in an environmentally friendly way, and must turn to pesticides or higher-profit crops that degrade the health of the soil. This is the basis of GreenAnt’s mission—to transform the health of an ecosystem (and the planet) into a valuable commodity. GreenAnt uses sophisticated satellite biomass data to create tools and resources that will not only make equitable climate action accessible, but also profitable. This includes the tree tokenization service we first devised in Thailand, but we’ve expanded to offer new products, too, like our harvest insurance and our deforestation certificates.