COSA’s new online self-assessment survey for producer organizations is a quick and easy-to-use tool that diagnoses the effectiveness and viability of a producer organization or enterprise using a state-of-the-art platform and metrics.

Producer organizations play a critical role in rural economies, providing farmers with training, technical assistance and lending. Rural, state-sponsored institutions that in the past addressed the needs of small farmers are few, and producer organizations now fill the gap. In its global research and partnerships, the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) has recognized that a strong organization often correlates more to good outcomes than any other single investment (e.g., money or resources spent on training, credit or certifications).

Led by COSA and The European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (EURICSE), more than 30 experts and institutions contributed to developing effective metrics to understand the key characteristics of what makes an effective producer organization or enterprise, which formed the basis for COSA’s tools.

This Producer Organization Diagnostic tool (POD) is a short, performance-based survey provided free to the public thanks to a generous grant from the Ford Foundation. It takes less than twenty minutes to fill out, and gives immediate scoring showing how a PO ranks with others. Additionally, the POD offers useful tips and insights from our experts about producer organizations. Future advancements planned for the POD include benchmarking results to other organizations.

A comprehensive set of indicators, metrics and survey questions is now also available for use by organizations and institutions that work with producer organizations, cooperatives and associations such as women’s or water-user groups. The tools have been tested in diverse settings and regions and are already being used by government, international development agencies, public-private partnerships and leading producer organizations.

For more information about COSA’s Producer Organization assessments contact Hubert Peri: hp[at]thecosa[dot]org.

It’s particularly gratifying that Producer Organizations themselves are requesting the use of these tools. For examples, two of Latin America’s leading co-ops, Aldea Global and Soppexcca are taking their very successful enterprise models and applying COSA tools to increase their effectiveness and to strengthen their sustainability.  In Kenya, newly formed producer organizations with very limited capacity are using the tools to help build the most appropriate structures and internal capacity in order to ensure their resilience.

The Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) is a consortium of institutions fostering effective ways to measure and understand sustainability in the agri-food sector. During our Partner Spotlight from 23-27 October 2017, we'll be examining pragmatic ways COSA metrics are driving innovations and sustainability practices, through the applications of tools ranging from impact assessments to performance monitoring. As part of the Partner Spotlight, a webinar on “Effective Tools for Understanding, Managing and Accelerating Impact” will be held on Thursday October 26th at 15:00 Rome time (13:00 GMT).

Metrics is a very relevant area of inquiry for the Partners in GFAR, who are embarking on a Collective Action to develop an "Innovative Approach to New SDG Metrics for Agri-food Innovation."

GFAR Secretariat is turning the spotlight on the work and Collective Actions of Partners in GFARwho share in our mission to strengthen and transform agri-food research and innovation systems globally. Not a GFAR partner yet? Join now!