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Sustainable Agriculture Framework

Outcome-based and modular tool to demonstrate commitment and progress towards sustainability.

The Sustainable Agriculture Framework (SAF) is a tool that compiles the knowledge, technical, and scientific experience of SAN. Recognizing sustainability's multidimensionality becomes a practical solution to facilitate the transition towards more sustainable production systems.

Picture of hands holding nuts

What is SAF?

This innovative and customizable management tool facilitates a combination of elements of verification and support. It is a modular and outcome-based approach that offers multiple advantages for the sustainable management of productive systems, as it is designed to easily assess progress towards defined impacts goals. The SAF allows achieving, measuring and demonstrating specific sustainability results, taking into account the needs of agricultural and livestock producers, and the expectations of the increasingly demanding global markets.

SAF 2021, what's new?

The structure and focus of SAF are maintained, but an in-depth content review was done to ensure that the tool evolves according to the needs of the agriculture sector, including: New sustainability goals and indicators related to harvest and post-harvest management. This a new sustainability goal that is included in Chapter 1. Elimination of indicators that had very similar content and scope. The scope and content of some indicators were adjusted and relocated to other chapters. Improvement of the wording of the introduction of some chapters, expected results, and indicators, eliminating a lot of jargon or certification language. The indicators are better explained, guiding the implementation of good agricultural practices.

How does it work?

SAF is flexible and serves to many purposes. It can be used as a manual of good practices, as a tool to assess the performance of operations on the ground, design support interventions and measure and verify progress; to map risks in the field, and as a roadmap to achieve sustainability goals. The SAF is a comprehensive framework, but at the same time, its modular design allows ‘outcomes’ to be selected and prioritized based on the challenges specific to each local context, enabling the development of a customized package of measures towards delivering these specific outcomes. Producers and clients can choose focus areas according to their needs, challenges, and commitments and define action plans according to their main interests. Unlike a certification or other voluntary schemes, the SAF seeks to identify options for improvement in the field and design specific intervention strategies that allow the efficient and intelligent allocation of resources and thus improve the farms' sustainable performance.

Cover image of the Sustainable Agriculture Framework 2021

Our SAF covers the 10 areas of impact in which SAN works.

Each area includes various sustainability goals, which are composed of expected outcomes and performance indicators, to demonstrate achievement. However, each organization or supply chain can choose the set of topics or indicators to work.

Frequently asked questions about SAF

How can a company use SAF?

A food-industry multinational company is seeking to define their sustainability program and the initiatives they will be implementing to support the producers that make up the base of their supply chain. They consider that reducing GHG, water use efficiency and human rights are the most relevant issues to their activity, and that other priority areas can also be defined specifically for each of the products that they purchase. In this case, the company can use SAF to identify the sustainability goals that fit the topics identified as most relevant topics to them, and accordingly select a series of good practices that will allow them to support their producers base into achieve these results. Once the good practices to be implemented have been selected, the company and SAN can draw up an action plan for continuous improvement, following the assessment of the initial situation and the resources available to start the process.

How can a cooperative use SAF?

In the Northwest region of Peru, there is a cooperative of approximately 500 cocoa producers. This cooperative has been selling certified cocoa to the European market for more than 5 years. They have recently established a business relationship with a new customer, who has let them know that they are interested in purchasing substantial volume over the next five years as long as they meet their sustainability compliance framework. When reviewing the client's sustainability framework, the cooperative manager realizes that they will cover most of the requirements with their current certification. However, they have a specific gap in two aspects: Integrated pest management and post-harvest management. In this case, SAF can function as a guiding tool so that, together, the client and the cooperative can select the expected results of each topic and the performance indicators of each, so that the latter becomes a guide to good practices to be implemented by producers and group administrators. In this way, SAF functions as a flexible tool that can be adapted and complemented by other standards or compliance frameworks.

How can a farmer use SAF?

A producer in Ethiopia wants to improve the way he grows his coffee, especially by focusing on the management of pesticides and fertilizers, as his main objective is to reduce the use of agricultural inputs (and thus reduce production costs), as well as reduce the ecological footprint of its cultivation. However, his resources are limited, and he has no idea how he could begin his path to sustainability. In these cases, SAF can be a great ally to identify the key points of improvement that must be addressed based on the results they want to see at the field level. The producer can consult the different sustainability goals, define those that are most relevant to his context and interests, and review the good practices that would allow him to achieve the expected results. Since SAF is a flexible tool, the producer can adapt the practices to his own conditions and available resources but still maintain a structure that allows him to report his progress.

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