Benchmarking SAI Platform’s Farm Sustainability Assessment

ProTerra Foundation believes that strategic alliances, continuous engagement and cooperation are essential to move the sustainable agenda forward and tackle the enormous social and environmental challenges we currently face today.

SAI Platform[1], a non-profit network of over 100 members worldwide, is among our strategic partners. Focusing on making a difference on-the-ground, from the smallest farm to the largest multinational, SAI Platform is one of the primary global food & drink value-chain initiatives for sustainable agriculture.

Over almost its 18 years of existence, together with its members, SAI Platform established a list of principles on how to produce sustainably. Through identifying the practices that would enable those principles to be delivered, SAI Platform published the ‘Principles and Practices of Sustainable Production’.  After studies, consultations and benchmarking exercises to identify the best tools in the field, in 2014, the Farmer Self-Assessment[2] (FSA)  was launched. The FSA would enable a farm’s sustainability level to be assessed and show the commitment to promoting reliable, sustainable food production now and for the future.

How does FSA work?

FSA presents a comprehensive approach to farm sustainability built around a free set of simple questions, which standardise farm assessment. The key benefits of FSA for farmers are:

  1. It is a great way to assess sustainable agriculture practices and communicate to customers.
  2. Using the tool helps save time and money because it removes the need to complete multiple assessments for multiple customers.
  3. Being a user of FSA increases market access, by selling to more companies who use Farmer Self-Assessment as their sustainable sourcing standard.

FSA is made up of 112 questions organised across three levels with an increasing complexity: ‘Essential’, ‘Basic’ and ‘Advanced’:

  • ‘Essential’ questions are about decent citizenship (e.g. prohibiting forced or bonded labour) and should be easy to comply with for any farmer working towards sustainability.
  • ‘Basic’ questions, identifies the fundamental elements of sustainable farming.
  • ‘Advanced’ questions capture the next step in sustainable farming.

Using the FSA as a farm self-assessment can allow businesses to understand opportunities for further improvement.  Optionally, to make FSA claims the results must be verified by an approved  third party. The questions are identical wherever a farmer is in the world and the same principle is applied to all product categories meaning FSA is trusted to be consistent, transparent and fair.

In 2019, the ProTerra Standard (V. 4.0)[3] was benchmarked against SAI Platform’s FSA and was awarded SILVER level equivalence.

What does that mean?

Four levels of performance have been developed, each with a specific threshold, as described here:

  • Bronze: compliance to 100% ‘Essential’ questions and a minimum of 75% ‘Basic’ questions.
  • Silver: compliance to 100% ‘Essential’ questions, 100% ‘Basic’ questions and less than 75% ‘Advanced’ questions.
  • Gold: compliance to 100% ‘Essential’ questions, 100% ‘Basic’ questions and a minimum of 75% ‘Advanced’ questions.
  • ‘Not yet Bronze’ indicates that the level of performance does not meet the bronze threshold yet.

This Silver benchmark score, awarded to ProTerra, reflects the level of alignment between the FSA and ProTerra production standard. This equivalency is the result of the collaboration between ProTerra and  SAI Platform to benefit actors in the food and feed supply chains.