Indicator Library

Master List

Purpose

With consistent indicators we have a shared understanding and a foundation for better management of sustainability.

  • Easily interpret impact and performance
  • Capture observed facts and reported perceptions
  • Better insights from a rich multi-dimensional understanding
  • Field-tested globally to permit confident observations and interpretation
Definition: COSA indicators are designed to quantify and clarify information in a manner that promotes the understanding of key environmental, social, and economic issues.

Distinction

What an indicator captures is important but even more valuable is the combined COSA experience to gather, analyze, and communicate results in a balanced and effective manner. COSA indicators are designed to be similar across all countries to allow for comparison but are also adapted to allow for local contexts.

A Sample Of Global themes
S
  • Living and Working Conditions
  • Basic Human Rights and Equity
  • Community
  • Trading Relationships
E
  • Resource Management
  • Soil and Water
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate Change
E
  • Producer Livelihood
  • Soil and Water
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate Change

KEY CHARACTERSTICS

There are a number of vital characteristics, ranging from household characteristics and land tenure to distance to market and shocks, that are critical to understand as part of any sustainability assessment.

  • THEMES
  • CORE ELEMENTS
  • NAME
  • DESCRIPTION

Key Characteristics

  • Household Demographics
    Household composition

    Number of people, genders, ages, dependency ratio, literacy, and school grades completed

    Producer characteristics

    Age of decision maker (producer) responsible for the focus crop, grades of school completed, gender, years of experience growing focus crop

    Household revenue

    Combined revenue from focus crop sales, other crops, other earnings (off farm employment, on-farm services provided, business revenue, and land & equipment rental), and gifts & remittances

  • Farm Characteristics
    Farm characteristics

    Management by owner, renter, or sharecropper or by a paid manager; farm size; age of focus crop trees (if relevant); focus crop area; farm location (GIS coordinates); distance from farm to nearest commercial center and to medical services

    Land tenure

    Owned by farmer, rented, sharecrop, communal ownership, farmed without payment

  • Adverse Events
    Shocks

    Occurrence of major events that led to a serious reduction in the household's income, assets, or consumption in last production year (severe weather, crop or livestock losses, sharp decline in prices, policy changes, death or serious illness or injury of family member, crime, civil conflict, etc.)

ENVIRONMENTAL

We incorporate a range of environmental metrics including those in the categories of inputs and resource management, water and soil quality, waste management, good agrochemical practices, greenhouse gas sequestration and mitigation, and biodiversity. Our mapping functions help to contextualize the farm area at the scale of a regional landscape.

  • THEMES
  • CORE ELEMENTS
  • NAME
  • DESCRIPTION

Water

  • Water Quality
    Safe Water for Domestic Use

    Household access to water they consider safe to drink

    Safe water for laborers

    Laborers' access to water they consider safe to drink during work

  • Water Quantity
    Water Conservation Measures

    Practices used to conserve water: drip irrigation, catchments, water-efficient processing, etc.

Resource Management

  • Resource/Input Management
    Nutrient Balance

    Producer's method(s) to determine fertilizer needs (soil analysis report, advice or assessment of a professional, observation, knowledge of nutrient depletion by previous crop, etc.)

    Energy

    Energy sources, costs for purchasing or producing, and use (electricity, gasoline, LPG, diesel, solar, wind, hydropower, wood from forests, prunings, managed woodlot, etc.)

    Integrated pest management

    IPM practices employed on farm

    NPK use and efficiency

    Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium amounts in synthetic fertilizers used and compared to focus crop yields - indicates both efficiency and potential pollution

    Pesticides used

    Amount of natural or synthetic insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc. that are used on focus crop

    Pesticide use efficiency

    Pesticide use compared to level of losses from pest or disease

    Toxicity class of pesticides

    Amount of active ingredients in pesticides by toxicity class

  • Waste Management
    Responsible Waste Management

    Materials recycled, reused, or disposed of properly

    Water Contamination Prevention Measures

    Practices used to prevent water contamination from: crop processing wastewater, animals, domestic discharge, cleaning of agrochemical application equipment, etc.

Soil

  • Conservation
    Nutrient Balance

    Producer's method(s) to determine fertilizer needs (soil analysis report, advice or assessment of a professional, observation, knowledge of nutrient depletion by previous crop, etc.)

    Local nutrient cycle

    Recycling of organic matter and crop wastes

    Intercropping

    Interplanting species for soil health, diversification, fertility

    Field maintenance

    Method(s) used to clean annual crop areas after harvest (leaving crop residue as ground cover, cutting and raking into piles, burning, etc.)

    Soil Conservation

    Measures taken to conserve soil and soil moisture balance (contour planting, soil cover, live fences, hedgerows, buffer zones, soil berms, etc.)

    Erosion

    Severity and prevalence of observed erosion on farm (in relation to slope)

Biodiversity

  • Plant Diversity
    Plant and tree diversity

    Levels of biodiversity: cleared land or pasture, monoculture, 2-3 cultivated species (sparse trees), 4-10 cultivated species (some trees), crop presence with multi-strata forest, fully functional natural forest; practices followed that preserve or enhance biodiversity

  • Tree Density
    Forestation

    Number and types of trees planted or removed; land area altered by planting or removing trees

    Trees per hectare

    Density of trees in farm habitats

  • Genetic Diversity
    Species and varietal diversity

    Portion of focus crop(s) that are improved varieties (locally adapted or native heirloom varieties, selected to thrive in local conditions, hybrid, genetically altered, genetically selected); number of other crops or animal products produced on farm for sale, trade, or consumption

Perception

  • Environmental Situation
    Community care of environment

    Producer's opinion of the community’s care of the environment

    Environmental Training

    Producer's opinion on the value of environmental training programs: general perception of usefulness and indication of specific practices implemented as a direct result of training

    Farm's care of environment

    Producer's opinion of the farm’s care of the environment

Climate Change

  • Sequestration and Mitigation
    Land Use Change

    Conversion of natural land (e.g., prairie, forest, savanna) to land used for cultivation orpasture, or conversion from cultivated or pasture land to natural land

    Carbon stock

    Number, size, type of trees and other perennial woody plants

ECONOMIC

Economic indicators are typically the most visible and the most popular. Ours go beyond traditional measures of income, credit, and assets to include factors of risk, competitiveness, and organizational capacity. The general groups of economic indicators must not be interpreted in a vacuum but rather in balance with social and environmental factors that affect, and are affected by, economic conditions.

  • THEMES
  • CORE ELEMENTS
  • NAME
  • DESCRIPTION

Producer Livelihoods

  • Revenue
    Revenue - Focus Crop

    Gross revenue from all sales of focus crop

    Farm revenue

    Focus crop revenue, other crop revenue, income from providing services (training, nurseries, land & equipment rental, etc.)

    Price

    Average of sales price(s) received per unit of focus crop; min and max prices received per unit of focus crop

    Yield

    Total focus crop harvested per hectare

    Household revenue

    Combined revenue from focus crop sales, other crops, other earnings (off farm employment, on-farm services provided, business revenue, and land & equipment rental), and gifts & remittances

  • Costs
    Costs of standard or certification

    Specific costs associated with obtaining the certificate and audit/inspection

    Labor days

    Days of paid and unpaid (e.g., household) labor used to produce focus crop

    Cultivation practices

    Costs for changes in cultivation practices e.g., drip irrigation, conservation tillage, contour planting, etc.

    Traceability and record keeping

    Labor and other costs incurred for record keeping and tracking inputs and practices

    Rennovation costs

    Cost for seedlings, planting/grafting materials, bags, shade materials, etc. for focus crop

    Capital assets

    Amount paid (amortized in some cases) for capital assets: equipment, irrigation, health clinic, worker housing, plumbing, sanitation, warehouses, etc.

    Reforestation costs

    Cost to buy plants and materials to grow trees and plants other than focus crop, and for the labor to plant the trees

    Pesticide costs

    Amount paid for insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides--synthetic and natural--that are used on focus crop

    Energy

    Energy sources, costs for purchasing or producing, and use (electricity, gasoline, LPG, diesel, solar, wind, hydropower, wood from forests, prunings, managed woodlot, etc.)

    Deductions by buyer

    Amount deducted by the buyer from focus crop payments

    Fertilizer costs

    Amount paid for fertilizers--synthetic and natural--used on focus crop

    Training costs

    Training fees, time, and cost for travel

    Labor costs

    Total cost of full time and part time paid labor to produce focus crop, and opportunity cost for unpaid labor

    Cost of Production - Focus Crop

    Total costs incurred during the last production year to produce the focus crop

  • Income
    Net household income

    Total household revenue less total costs for focus crop production, other crop and livestock production costs, and costs for businesses run by household members

    Net income from focus crop

    Total revenue from focus crop sales less total costs for focus crop production

Risk (Economic Resilience)

  • Information
    Price transparency

    Producer's understanding of the factors that affect the price they receive for focus crop (quality, consistency, variety, etc.)

    Access to market information

    Market information the producer reports knowing (price buyer receives, other local prices, global prices)

  • Credit
    Access to Credit

    Producer indicates that he or she could access medium sized production loan within a reasonable time, if needed; potential source of the loan

    Credit history

    Amount of credit received by a producer compared to the amount of credit requested (if any); terms of the loan, repayment history

  • Vulnerability
    Days Without Sufficient Food

    Days without sufficient food tracks number of days in past year that any member of household cut food consumption due to lack of food and months/times of year of comparatively less household food security.

    Next Generation

    Participation by younger adults in decision making, training, and producer organizations associated with the focus crop

    Poverty status

    Comparison of household revenue to national (or regional if available) poverty line; PPI score evaluation of poverty propensity

    Profit and loss

    Producer's awareness of profit or loss from focus crop production and sales

    Insurance

    Producer has agricultural insurance policy in effect; terms of the policy

    Minimum wage - Producer

    Comparison of a producer's net income per labor day to minimum wage

  • Diversification
    Area used for other crops

    Portion of cultivated farm area used for other crops

    Number of other crops or animal products

    Number of other crops (including those intercropped with focus crop) or animal products (meat, dairy, wool, honey, etc.) produced on farm for sale or for consumption

    Other Revenue (Not Production Related)

    Farm revenue not related to production of crops or animal products including revenue from renting out land or equipment, services such as training, etc.

    Revenue from other crops and animal products

    Portion of total farm production revenue from other crops and animal products

Producer Organization

  • Governance
    Producer Perception of Organization's Value

    Producer's perceptions of the value obtained from specific producer organization services (marketing/price negotiation; physical services: cleaning, grading, storage, etc.; and trainings coordinated by producer organization)

    Women's Participation

    Attendance at trainings and in producer organizations (by gender)

  • Services
    Community services

    Community projects coordinated through a producer organization that someone from the farm was involved in (improvements in: agricultural facilities, access to water or sewage, medical care, road or school construction, etc.)

    Production and post-harvest services

    Market information, marketing support, extension services, and processing available from producer organization to producer

    Financial services

    Credit or other funding (advance on inputs or grants) available through the producer organization

Competitiveness

  • Differentiation
    Practices for product quality in harvesting and processing

    Specific product quality practices used by producer for harvesting and processing focus crop

    Price premium

    Premium paid or value delivered for meeting a quality standard or a certification

    Current standards and certifications

    Number of current certifications or standards the farm holds

    Control of certification or standard

    Who owns the certificate or verification of standard compliance (producer, buyer, producer organization, etc.)

    Crop sold with a standard or as certified

    Portion of total focus crop produced that is sold with a standard or as certified

    Product quality

    Key quality measures for focus crop

  • Business Development
    Business Sustainability

    Strength of producer's forecasting that he or she will remain a professional focus crop producer; strength of indication that producer would be happy if his or her children chose to become professional focus crop producers

    Access to market information

    Market information the producer reports knowing (price buyer receives, other local prices, global prices)

    Farm price to global reference price ratio

    Comparison of price paid to producer for focus crop to global reference price

    Price transparency

    Producer's understanding of the factors that affect the price they receive for focus crop (quality, consistency, variety, etc.)

    Quality awareness

    Producer's awareness of the quality characteristics of the focus crop

    Record Keeping

    Producer keeps records of costs and production data

  • Efficiency
    Production/labor (technical) efficiency

    Quantity of focus crop produced per unit of input: fertilizer, pesticide, paid labor day, unpaid labor day

    Cost (Economic) Efficiency

    Ratio of revenue received from sales of focus crop to costs incurred for fertilizers, pesticides, and labor 

Perception

  • Economic Situation
    Producer Opinions on Economic Situation

    Producer's opinion of their overall economic situation

    Business Development Training

    Producer's opinion on the value of business development training programs: general perception of usefulness and indication of specific practices implemented as a direct result of training