Producer Organizations Indicators

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.

Indicator definition: For COSA an indicator is contextual information about a farming system. Indicators relate to characteristics that can be expected to change over time as the sustainability of a farming system increases.

Our indicators are derived from a series of observed facts and reported perceptions. Taken in aggregate, data on the COSA indicators provide both easily interpreted performance metrics and a rich multi-dimensional understanding. They seek to meet SMART criteria and the questions related to them are widely field-tested to permit confident observations and interpretation.

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General Information
PO basic profiles
Respondents' information Information on respondent(s) name, sex, age, education level, position in the PO; Basic contact info (phone number, email)
Basic PO information Official name of the PO (as specified in the registration certificate if registered), common name of PO (if different); Physical address, phone number, website
Establishment history Information on year of establishment, who initiated the PO (e.g., producers themselves, NGO, government, private firms) and type of support if it was initiated by external partners (e.g., start-up capital, working space, physical equipment, technical)
Type of PO by purpose Identify main functions of PO: Processing, storage, marketing, inputs, credit, other farmer services, etc. Changes that have occurred in the PO main focus over last 5 years (i.e. functions no longer covered, new functions)
Affiliation Major affiliations the PO has to other organizations (NGO, businesses, projects, other PO) and whether each is partner, supporter, buyer, or umbrella group; Purpose of each affiliation
Location and community characteristics
Country, region, district, and village name Name of the country, region, district and villages where the PO where currently operates
Distance to market Distance from PO office/HQ to nearest town measured as average time to get there via usual means of transportation
Distance to infrastructure Distance from PO office/HQ to nearest all-season road (gravel, tarmac, etc.); PO distance to main storage or processing facilities
Land tenure Structure of land tenure in the community and among PO members
Landholding/farm size (hectares) and common community crops Range and median average of land area cultivated by local farmers (e.g., 2 to 20 ha. with 5 ha. median); Major crops grown by local farmers
Location GIS latitude-longitude coordinates of the main operations office or facilities
Membership and Organizational Structure
Membership size Total number of registered members at the time of establishment and at time of survey
Number and proportion of female members Number and percentage of female members during establishment and at time of survey
Number of members by age category Number of members by age categories
Entrance and membership fee Amount of entrance and membership fee: monetary fee, contribution of produce (i.e. sack of coffee)
Level of member participation Level of participation measured by percentage of members who regularly: attend meetings, pay membership fees, make use of the services provided by the PO (e.g., percentage who regularly sell their output through PO, attend trainings)
Member turnover Number of members who leave and who enter the PO during the year(s) under consideration
Land size cultivated by members and crops Range and median average of land area cultivated by PO members (e.g., 2 to 20 ha. with 5 ha. median); Major crops grown by members
Organizational Structure
Board or management appointment Process of management/board appointment (e.g., by members, external bodies), including appointment criteria and duration of appointment
Employment Number of full-time and part-time employees in the PO; Number of female staff and age of staff
Voting rules and decision process What is the decision making process (e.g. based on ‘one person one vote’, on shares, tenure, volume sold to PO, etc.)
Bylaws Producer members' participation in internal regulations that govern the PO; PO policies to promote gender and youth inclusivity through membership, election of BOD and management; PO policies that advocate for environmental protection
Business plan Participation of members, BOD and management in Business Plan development -- Does the business plan detail mission of PO, roles and responsibilities of the organizational structure, description of services, and projections of revenues?; Does the BP contain language that explicitly describes the PO as a “sustainable” or a “social enterprise” and does the strategy of the PO reflect elements of gender inclusivity, environmental protection, community development and financial sustainability?
Legal status Official legal registration (i..e cooperative, association, business) and specifc obligations associated with status
Organizational Chart of Roles and Responsibilities Key personnel in place with coherent job descriptions and clear chain of reporting relationships between management, BOD and members; Any positions/roles that the PO does not have filled (or outsourced) which are critical (i.e. bookkeeper/accountant, credit manager, other specific technical roles etc.)
Management and Organizational Systems
Performance goals for organization Management has established annual goals (to reduce costs, increase sales, improve membership, etc.). Goals are reflected in operations plans for departments and annual plan
Professional development Does the staff have the right skillset to achieve the goals of their roles? Is a workplan to achieve objectives established with all employees and BOD, with a plan to improve staff and BOD weaknesses?
Human resource management Recruiting policies, employee benefits, policies for equal opportunity employment; What is the process for hiring? How are staff evaluated? What is the termination policy?
Staff turnover Number of staff members that have left in the past and current year. Is there a common complaint?
Staff participation Simple approaches are implemented to involve people throughout the organization to participate in planning activities and identify continual improvement opportunities(i.e. Monthly meetings)
Member management A process is in place to ensure the needs and expectations of PO members are clearly defined and addressed. Outreach efforts to attract new members and deepen relationships with existing members
Resource management Resources to meet objectives are identified and plans to attain and use resources are developed by managers - Resources may include people, partners, vehicles, processing equipment and infrastructure
Organizational systems
Annual plan Annual plan developed through a participatory process with management and BOD -- Annual plan is in line with budget
Accounting systems Standard book keeping processes and accounting manuals in place. Existence of basic books of accounts (i.e. chart of accounts, ledger). Automated accounting systems that generate financial statements (income statement, balance sheet, statement of change in members'/shareholders' equity, cash flow statement). Are assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses properly categorized in the financial statements and do they reflect reality?
Budgeting Financial resources to meet objectives are identified, with timing and usage of financial resources allocated and reconciled monthly - Involvement of departmental managers in development of annual budget and monthly reviews
Information management Are key documents, farmer records and information saved in a secure location and can files be shared/easily accessed by key managers. Does the PO have a website and is the website up to date? How is information backed up?
Credit management Credit services provided to farmers is managed and monitored using standard credit portfolio management criteria. Credit from outside lenders to PO for working capital is in line with monthly cash flows. Long term credit for infrastructure is justified through projected savings in expenses or premiums generated through quality improvements
Risk management Internal controls in place to track use of cash throughout the PO and ensure proper authorization for use of financial resources
Record keeping Transparent record keeping between organization, farmers, lenders, and buyers. How are member records organized? Are farmer records digitalized and updated? Does the PO have a functional internal control system for certification compliance? Does each member have a unique identificatoin code? How is member information collected and consolidated (i.e. payments, training, certification, meetings etc)?
Technology Use of computers, internet, mobile, radio or other technology for communication and access to information - How many computers does the PO have and what are they used for? Is there internet access at the main office? Does the management regularly use email for correspondence? Is their mobile network connectivity between PO branches? Does the PO use social media? Can the PO communicate to members via text?
Communication Communication channels between BOD, Management and Members; Frequency and type of communication (e.g. Monthly regional meetings, Quarterly BOD meetings, Annual General Body meeting with members etc.)
Audit Existence of internal and/or external audits (financial, certification, tax, buyer) and availability/communication of audit report for BOD and members. When was the last financial audit? When was the last certificatoin audit?
Financial Sustainability
Source(s) of finance
Quality control A framework for verification of processes and products is in place and functioning as planned. This includes internal evaluations of the processes as well as product quality verification at various stages of production/value addition.
Share capital and member equity Contribution made by members of the PO (i.e. type + amount).
Loans/Credit (made to the PO) Any loan/credit received in the name of the PO (i.e. type + amount). Number of financial institutions PO is in contact with; Has the PO been rejected from a loan (and for what reason)? Can the PO fulfill basic loan requirements (e.g. financial statements with projected positive cash flow (based on sales), assets that can be used as collateral)?; How does the PO identify potential lenders (i.e. private, government, social lenders) and communicate with them?
Grant/donation/subsidies/project Other types of outside funding received by the PO including in-kind support (i.e. type + amount).
Bank account Existence of bank account in the name of the PO (i.e. type + amount).
Financial Situation
Gross revenue/income Total revenue and total target-crop revenue received during the year under consideration before any costs or deductions
Gross expense Total expenses incurred during the year under consideration
Assets of the PO The current estimated monetary value of main depreciable assets owned by the PO (e.g., buildings, equipment, vehicles)
Liability (debt and equity) of the PO Amount of borrowings payable and duties or responsibilities that entail settlement by future use of the PO’s revenues
Net profit or loss of the PO Profit status of the PO and amount of profit or loss
Dividend Percentage of profit distributed as a dividend, amount of dividend distributed during the year(s) under consideration, minimum, average and maximum amount received by member producers, and the criteria used for allocation of dividend (i.e., share capital, patronage, both share capital and patronage)
Savings/Reserve fund Funds kept aside from annual profit to capitalize funds or make-up for future potential losses
Taxes Understanding local and national tax liabilities
Focus crop(s) productivity, product quality
PO focus crop(s) Crop(s) mainly produced by the members of the PO (e.g. cotton, coffee, cacao, banana, honey)
Productivity Average yield during the year under consideration by focus crops mainly handled by the PO, yield change over time and reasons for positive or negative changes in yield (e.g., climate condition, farm management, technology);
Product quality Quality of products by crop type; can be also measured in terms of rejected orders due to quality or premiums paid relating to quality grades; measures/control mechanisms in place by the PO to ensure quality requirements of buyers
Services and Facilities
Agricultural inputs supply
Input types Type of agricultural inputs supplied by the PO, including divisible inputs (e.g., fertilizer, improved varieties, pesticides) and indivisible resources (e.g., tractor, farm equipment, input application equipment, access to irrigation, water pipes or pumps)
Volume / amount of input Volume supplied by input type for divisible inputs during the year(s) under consideration and number of beneficiaries for indivisible inputs
Mode of payment/selling Information on whether the PO supplies agricultural inputs in cash or in credit; Partnership or affiliation with input supplier
Prices of inputs Information on whether the PO sell inputs at subsidized price, at cost, or at a profit; also below, equal or above market prices, if at a profit
Training and information
Training received by the PO Current training or training program that has been recently completed. Training topics (e.g., business administration, strategic planning, organizational development, good agricultural practices, quality control, organoleptic/testing, certification and standard implementation, risk management, commercialization, adult literacy, etc.); hours of training; number of participants (and number of women);who provides the training (e.g., buyers, Government, NGOs)
Training provided by the PO Current training provided or training program that has been recently completed. Training provided by the PO (promoters or technicians) to producers (e.g., good farming practices, application of agricultural inputs, post-harvest handling, certification), hours of training, number of participants (and number of women); who covers the training costs (e.g., the PO itself or buyers, Government, NGOs)
Information services Type of information channeled by the PO to its members (e.g., market, technology, weather, customer/user quality requirements); means of communications (e.g., broadcasting, pamphlets, text)
Storage service (Type/quality and capacity of the warehouse) Information on whether the PO provide storage services; Type of storage (e.g., traditional or open storage, closed storage, climate controlled warehouse) and the storage capacity in metric tons; information on whether the storage facility is sufficient to meet producers demand
Volume of product(s) stored, by product/crop type Volume of products stored by product or crop type; A ITEMS: very tight control and accurate records; B ITEMS: less tightly controlled and good records; C ITEMS: simplest controls possible and minimal records
Terms of use and fee Terms and conditions for the use of storage by the PO’s members (e.g., own, lease) and terms and conditions for the use of the services by the producers
Inventory management Management of the inventories, with the primary objective of determining/controlling stock levels for processing or distribution; Balancing timing of contract with buyers and capacity to source, store, process and deliver produce
Receipt /loan security system Information whether the PO provides warehouse receipt system or loan security system for members/producers
Value addition services If the PO is involved in processing, type of processing or value addition services provided by the PO (e.g., drying, cleaning, weighing, bagging, shelling, roasting). If not, plans to start processing members' produce or reason why there are no plans
Income from processing Profit retained out of processing and value addition activities
Credit provided to members
Total amount of credit Total amount of credit provided for members during the year(s) under consideration (both in cash and value of inputs)
Requirements for receiving loans and credit Requirements for receiving loans and credit
Number of borrowers Numbers of producers who borrowed from the organization during the year(s) under consideration
Number of women borrowers Numbers of female producers who borrowed from the organization during the year(s) under consideration
Loan size Minimum, average, maximum loan size provided by the PO during the year(s) under consideration
Loan purpose Main purposes of loans provided by the PO
Interest rate and fees Average interest rate per annum on loans by loan types/terms; Formula for calculating interest rate and fees (does it cover the cost of loan administration); What are the specific fees charged to borrowers?
Repayment/default rate Repayment rates and default rates over the year(s) under consideration (as a percentage of total loans)
Source of credit fund and cost of credit Information on the source of credit funds and interest rate per annum paid by the PO
Marketing/Outputs commercialization
Product type The product type the organization mainly sold - if the focus crop was raw or in a form with value added
Quantity sold The quantity sold during the year(s) by product type in metric ton and by crop (e.g., for coffee) and information on the reason for large/small quantity sold.
PO’s buyers Who are the main buyers of the PO (e.g., wholesalers, supermarkets, processers, exporters, local markets); How does the PO identify and communicate with potential buyers? Does the PO have sales material and samples packaged professionally? Are there specific buyer requirements that the PO is aware of? Has the PO had quality or order fulfillment problems in the past?
Value of marketed product(s) Value of products marketed by the PO during the year under consideration in local currency
Means of collection/aggregation PO provides collection of the products or members deliver their product(s) to the PO/buying station, or deliver through intermediaries
Average time taken from PO, to market Average time of transit between the PO and market at which the PO sell its products (e.g., district market, regional market or export market)
Contract with buyers Information on whether the PO has had contractual agreement with its buyers and type(s) of contract (e.g., spot contract, fixed price contract, multi-year contract)
Determinants of price offered to producers by the PO The price offered by the PO at the time of collecting the members product(s) (i.e., lower, equal to, and higher than the market price -rationale if lower and higher) and sources of information to determine price
Initiatives: Certification, Standards, or Project
Certificates or Standards held
Type of certificate currently held Type of certificate currently held by the PO (e.g., Fair Trade, Organic, UTZ Certified, Rainforest Alliance), number of producers certified, date of certification and information on cost of certification. If not certified, reasons and future plans for certification
% of crop sold as certified Proportion of crop(s) sold by the PO as certified.
Certificates or standards that were lost or lapsed in the last 5 years Certificates or standard achieved that stopped over the last five years, reason for letting it lapse or having it cancelled
Impacts on trade, production, labor conditions and business development due to initiatives
Impact on trade Change on trade, like on traceability, sourcing, product flow, and use of trademarks
Impact on production Change in production practices (e.g., environmentally friendly farming, integrated pest management, proper handling use of chemicals, waste management, conservative farming practices)
Impact on labor conditions Change in labor conditions (e.g., uniform treatment of labors, better employment, occupational safety and health, child protection)
Impact on business development and infrastructure New business and infrastructure funded out of the premium income
Community Services
Supplying basic consumer goods PO supplies basic consumer goods and transaction costs reduced from collective procurement
Infrastructure projects Involvement of the PO in the construction of schools, health centers, water infrastructure, roads/other transportation, market, or electric facilities
Gender and human rights education Involvement of the PO in women empowerment and human right educations
Policy advocacy and political affiliation Involvement of the PO local politics; affiliation with a political organization
Market development Actions by the PO that improve market access of producers in the community at large
Price stabilization The role of PO in providing competitive prices for the focus crop
Technology adaptation New technologies introduced through the PO since establishment
Awareness of conservation practices Environmental conservation efforts or investments the PO realizes at the community level (e.g., water, soil conservation)
Awareness of waste management/recycling PO provides training and awareness on waste management, recycling and preserving biodiversity
PO Priorities (Previously SWOT)
PO Priorities in the next 2 years
List of organizational challenges (open ended) Major challenges faced by the PO at organizational level
Services requested by the PO Assistance in market networking, access to financial services, specfic training, marketing support, legal, etc.