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.


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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
INDICATORS
DESCRIPTION
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
Household revenue Combined revenue from focus crop sales, other crops, other earnings (off farm employment, services, business revenue, land or equipment rental), and gifts & remittances
Household composition Number of people, genders, ages, dependency ratio, literacy, and school grades completed
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.)




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.


THEMES
CORE ELEMENTS
INDICATORS
DESCRIPTION
Basic Human Rights and Equity
Labor Rights
Child labor Time spent by children working on focus crop production
Minimum wage Daily earnings for farm labor compared to (rural) minimum wage
Safe water for laborers Laborers' access to water they consider safe to drink during work
Education
Training Data include: Training topics attended, fees, time and cost for travel, provider of training
Children in school at appropriate grade level Number of household members through age 18 who have completed appropriate number of grades for age
Food Security
Days without sufficient food Food security is consistent daily physical and economic access to sufficient, nutritious, satisfying food for all household members; 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
Gender
Women's participation in producer groups Intensity of women's participation in producer groups indicated by number of ways they participate (attend meetings, vote, serve as delegate, hold executive post)
Management (by gender) Proportion of decisions about the focus crop made by women and by men
Price received Price received for focus crop by gender
Education (by gender) Number of household members through age 18 who have completed appropriate number of grades for age (disaggregated by gender)
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
Protective gear for agrochemical application Farm supplies protective gear (hats, masks, protective clothing, etc.) to workers who apply agrochemicals
Farm injuries Number of injuries on farm that required medical treatment
Access to medical services Travel time from farm to medical services, perceived affordability of medical services
Living Conditions
Smoke ventilation in cooking area Whether or not a vent or chimney is used to eliminate indoor smoke
Safe water for domestic use Household access to water they consider safe to drink
Poverty status Comparison of household revenue to national (or regional if available) poverty line; Progress out of Poverty Index score (PPI) - evaluation of poverty propensity
Community
Participation
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)
Producer participation in groups Intensity of producer's participation in producer groups indicated by number of ways they participate (attend meetings, vote, serve as delegate, hold executive post)
Producer perception of group's value Producer's perceptions of the value obtained from specific PO services (marketing/price negotiation; physical services: cleaning, grading, storage, etc.; and trainings coordinated by PO)
Women's participation in producer groups Intensity of women's participation in producer groups indicated by number of ways they participate (participate in meetings, vote, serve as delegate, hold executive post)
Trading Relationships
Transparency
Access to market information Market information the producer reports knowing (price buyer receives, other local prices, global prices)
Price transparency Producer's understanding of the factors that affect the price they receive for focus crop (quality, consistency, variety)
Capacity and Finance
Financial services Financial or in-kind credit, grants, or other funding (e.g., premium distribution) available to producers through their buyer
Production and post-harvest services Market information, marketing support, extension services, and processing available from buyer to producer
Community services Community projects supported by a buyer that someone from the farm was involved in (improvements in: agricultural facilities, access to quality water or sewage, medical care, road or school construction, etc.)
Perception
Social Situation
Producer opinions on social issues
Community care of the environment Producer's opinion of the community’s care for the environment
Social traning Producer's opinion on the value of social responsibility training programs: general perception of usefulness and indication of specific practices implemented as a direct result of training
Quality of life Producer's opinion of the overall quality of life for those on the farm




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
INDICATORS
DESCRIPTION
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.)
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
Integrated pest management IPM practices employed on farm
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
Energy Energy sources, costs for purchasing or producing, and use (electricity, gasoline, LPG, diesel, solar, wind, hydropower, wood from forests, prunings, managed woodlot, etc.)
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.
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 contamination prevention measures Practices used to prevent water contamination from: wastewater from crop processing, animals, domestic discharge, cleaning of agrochemical application equipment, etc.
Water Quantity
Water conservation measures Practices used to conserve water: drip irrigation, catchments, water-efficient processing, etc.
Soil
Conservation
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)
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 Health
Intercropping Interplanting species for soil health, diversification, fertility
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
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
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
Tree Density
Trees per hectare Density of trees in farm habitats
Forestation Number and types of trees planted or removed; land area altered by planting or removing trees
Climate Change
Sequestration and Mitigation
Carbon stock Number, size, type of trees and other perennial woody plants
Land use change Conversion of natural land (e.g., prairie, forest, savanna) to land used for cultivation or pasture, or conversion from cultivated or pasture land to natural land
Perception
Environmental Situation
Producer opinions on environmental issues
Farm's care of environment Producer's opinion of the farm’s care of the environment
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




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
INDICATORS
DESCRIPTION
Producer Livelihoods
Revenue
Focus crop revenue Gross revenue from all sales of focus crop
Yield Total focus crop harvested per hectare
Price Average of sales price(s) received per unit of focus crop
Farm revenue Focus crop revenue, other crop revenue, income from providing services (training, nurseries, land & equipment rental, etc.)
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
Direct costs for focus crop
Labor days Days of paid and unpaid (e.g., household) labor used to produce focus crop
Labor costs Total cost of full time and part time paid labor to produce focus crop, and opportunity cost for unpaid labor
Fertilizer costs Amount paid for fertilizers--synthetic and natural--used on focus crop
Pesticide costs Amount paid for insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides--synthetic and natural--that are used on focus crop
Rennovation costs Cost for seedlings, planting/grafting materials, bags, shade materials, etc. for focus crop
Deductions by buyer Amount deducted by the buyer from focus crop payments
Energy Costs for purchasing or producing energy for the farm (electricity, gasoline, LPG, diesel, solar, wind, hydropower, wood from forests, prunings, managed woodlot, etc.)
Indirect costs for focus crop
Capital assets Amount paid (amortized in some cases) for capital assets: equipment, irrigation, health clinic, worker housing, plumbing, sanitation, warehouses, etc.
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
Costs of standard or certification Specific costs associated with obtaining the certificate and audit/inspection
Reforestation costs Cost to buy plants and materials to grow trees for trees other than focus crop, and for the labor to plant the trees
Training costs Training fees, time, and cost for travel
Income
Net income from focus crop Total revenue from focus crop sales less total costs for focus crop production
Net household income Total household revenue less total costs for focus crop production, other crop and livestock production costs, and business costs for businesses run by household members
Risk (Economic Resilience)
Diversification
Revenue from other crops Portion of total production revenue from other crops
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, nurseries, etc.
Information
Access to market information Market information the producer reports knowing (prices buyer receives, other local prices, global prices)
Price transparency Producer's understanding of the factors that affect the price they receive for focus crop (quality, consistency, variety, etc.)
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
Poverty status Comparison of household revenue to national (or regional if available) poverty line PPI score evaluation of poverty propensity
Minimum wage Comparison of a producer's net income per labor day to minimum wage
Insurance Producer has agricultural insurance policy in effect; terms of the policy
Days without sufficient food Consistent daily physical and economic access to sufficient, nutritious, satisfying food for all household members; Number of days in past year that any member of household cut food consumption due to lack of food; months of comparatively less food security
Gender income differences Total net income from focus crop on farms managed by women compared to farms managed by men
Next generation Participation by younger adults in decision making, training, and producer organizations associated with the focus crop
Profit and loss Producer's awareness of profit or loss from focus crop production and sales
Competitiveness
Business Development
Access to market information Market information the producer reports knowing (price buyer receives, other local prices, global prices)
Price transparency Producer's understanding of the factors that affect the price they receive for focus crop (quality, consistency, variety)
Farm price to global reference price ratio Comparison of price paid to producer for focus crop to global reference price
Quality awareness Producer's awareness of the quality characteristics of the focus crop
Record keeping Producer keeps records of costs and production data
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
Differentiation
Practices for product quality in harvesting and processing Specific product quality practices used by producer for harvesting and processing focus crop
Product quality Key quality measures for focus crop
Control of certification or standard Who owns the certificate or verification of standard compliance (producer, buyer, producer organization, etc.)
Current standards and certifications Number of current certifications or standards the farm holds
Price premium Premium paid or value delivered for meeting a quality standard or a certification
Crop sold with a standard or as certified Portion of total focus crop produced that is sold with a standard or as certified
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 Revenue from sales of focus crop per per unit cost of input: fertilizer, pesticide, paid labor day, unpaid labor day
Producer Organization
Governance
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)
Women's participation in producer groups Intensity of women's participation in producer groups indicated by number of ways they participate (participate in meetings, vote, serve as delegate, hold executive post)
Producer perception of group's value Producer's perceptions of the value obtained from specific PO services (marketing/price negotiation; physical services: cleaning, grading, storage, etc.; and trainings coordinated by PO)
Services
Financial services Credit or other funding (advance on inputs or grants) available through the PO
Production and post-harvest services Market information, marketing support, extension services, and processing available from PO to producer
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, etc.)
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