Indicators Master List

The COSA indicators are similar across all countries to allow for comparison, but are also adapted to allow for local contexts. Consistent indicators allow a shared understanding and a foundation for better management of sustainability.

Defining COSA Indicators: COSA indicators are designed to quantify and clarify information in a manner that promotes the understanding of key environmental, social, and economic issues.

COSA indicators are derived from a series of observed facts and reported perceptions. The indicators provide both easily interpreted performance metrics and a rich multi-dimensional understanding. They help to develop and monitor practical objectives and the questions related to them are widely field-tested to permit confident observations and interpretation. 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.

Open all
Close all

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.

Key Characteristics
Household Demographics
Producer characteristics Age of decision maker (producer) responsible for the focus crop, grades of school completed, gender, years of experience growing focus crop

COSA’s social indicators are aligned with major international agreements and cover a range of issues including working conditions, household conditions, food security, education, basic rights, participation in community, trading relationships, and the perception of wellbeing.

Basic Human Rights and Equity
Labor Rights
Child labor Time spent by children working on focus crop production
Living and Working Conditions
Health and Safety
Restrictions on agrochemical application Categories of people restricted from applying chemical pesticides: untrained people, pregnant women, children through age 18, elders
Community services Community projects coordinated through a PO that someone from the farm was involved in (improvements in: agricultural facilities, access to water or sewage, medical care, road or school construction)
Trading Relationships
Access to market information Market information the producer reports knowing (price buyer receives, other local prices, global prices)
Social Situation
Producer opinions on social issues

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.

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.)
Water Quality
Safe water for domestic use Household access to water they consider safe to drink
Soil conservation Measures taken to conserve soil and soil moisture balance (contour planting, soil cover, live fences, hedgerows, buffer zones, soil berms, etc.)
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
Climate Change
Sequestration and Mitigation
Carbon stock Number, size, type of trees and other perennial woody plants
Environmental Situation
Producer opinions on environmental issues

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.

Producer Livelihoods
Focus crop revenue Gross revenue from all sales of focus crop
Risk (Economic Resilience)
Revenue from other crops Portion of total production revenue from other crops
Business Development
Access to market information Market information the producer reports knowing (price buyer receives, other local prices, global prices)
Producer Organization
Producer participation in groups Intensity of producer's participation in producer groups indicated by number of ways they participate (participate in meetings, vote, serve as delegate, hold executive post)
Economic Situation
Producer opinions on economic situation Producer's opinion of their overall economic situation