Flexible Voluntary Contribution (FVC)

Sustainable productivity in agriculture (in the context of Climate-Smart Agriculture [CSA] and agroecology)


To provide evidence-based guidance and tools to promote transitions towards more productive and sustainable agriculture at the national and local levels, in alignment with the SDGs.

Status of the subprogramme
On going

Major results

To provide evidence-based guidance and tools to promote transitions towards more productive and sustainable agriculture at the national and local levels, in alignment with the SDGs.

The Subprogramme acts on three interconnected areas of work: policy guidance, farm-level support, and digital tools and data systems:

1.    Policy guidance:

The Subprogramme is preparing analytical studies to identify key interventions across several thematic areas that can successfully promote sustainable agriculture transitions:

Integrated policymaking:

  • An international group of experts was assembled to develop a Policy Sourcebook that will help decision-makers integrate environmental issues into agricultural policies, building on the perspectives, challenges and lessons learned from a wide range of geographies and contexts.

Farm-level strategies for sustainable agriculture transitions:

  • The Subprogramme is reviewing and assessing available evidence on farm-level interventions (from local policies and incentives to capacity-building trainings and farmer-to-farmer exchanges) to identify the enabling factors needed to successfully promote sustainable agriculture transitions.

Project development guidance and alignment with SDGs:

  • The Subprogramme is preparing guidance materials for Green Climate Fund (GCF) project developers, which will support project alignment with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators and address potential co-benefits and trade-offs from activities during project design.

Behaviour change and knowledge transfer:

  • The Subprogramme is preparing guidance materials for interventions that can effectively promote behaviour change among farmers, to increase their uptake of sustainable agricultural practices, and among consumers, to encourage the adoption of more sustainable food consumption patterns.

Private sector engagement

  • The Subprogramme is supporting a review of best practices to engage private sector actors in sustainable food and agriculture initiatives.

2.    Farm level guidance:

  • The Subprogramme has developed an indicator framework to assess farm production sustainability in the context of smallholder systems. Results from the assessment will help farmers identify strengths and weaknesses in their production systems across the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability.
  • The framework has undergone peer review and is being piloted in Bangladesh and North Macedonia. Results from the pilots will serve to establish the baseline for future projects, and to refine the framework based on feedback received from enumerators and farmers.
  • The framework will be offered as a complete package of tools to support individuals and organizations to independently develop, monitor and evaluate their projects. The package includes a guidance manual, a digital farm survey based on the FAO Open Foris Collect app and an automated data analysis routine.
  • The Subprogramme is also supporting the development of a tool to support farmers’ decision-making on sustainable agricultural practices. Based on results from the sustainability assessment framework, the tool will suggest practices that can increase farm sustainability.

3.    Digital tools and data systems:

The Subprogramme is supporting the development and improvement of digital tools and data systems through action at country level.

  • Needs assessments were conducted with policymakers, farmers and other stakeholders in project countries to identify the tools and functionalities most needed.
  • In Bangladesh, the Subprogramme is supporting the Department of Extension to improve the functionalities of existing mobile apps used for digital farmer extension.
  • In Lao People’s Democratic Republic, a digital app is being developed to provide policymakers with localized evidence on agro-meteorological information and inform their decision-making.
  • In North Macedonia, the Subprogramme is developing new geospatial data layers and integrating them into a unified web platform to enhance the accessibility of such information to national policymakers and farmers.

The Subprogramme has successfully established partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders to ensure its effective delivery and maximize the quality and impact of products developed:

  • A group of experts from universities, research centres, government agencies and international organizations has been assembled to develop the Policy Sourcebook on integrated agriculture-environment policymaking.
  • The project has collaborated with the Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA) to facilitate the development, review and dissemination of a version of the farm sustainability assessment framework that is specifically tailored for use in CSA projects.
  • A group of experts from CGIAR centres, World Bank, universities, NGOs and CSOs was put together to facilitate the peer review of the farm sustainability assessment framework. Collaborations are also being explored with individuals and organizations that expressed an interest in using the framework in their projects.
  • In project countries, the Subprogramme has worked closely with local ministries of agriculture and the environment, departments of extension, agro-meteorological agencies and research centres.


  • In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down some project activities. The challenging and unforeseen situation pushed the project team to identify alternative approaches to ensure effective delivery:
    • In place of in-person workshops, collaboration with international stakeholders and partners was ensured through virtual meetings and e-consultations to validate the products developed.
    • The delivery of field activities was ensured by partnering early on with national entities (e.g. NGOs and research institutions) that remained operational on the ground and were able to respond quickly and effectively to the evolving situation with the pandemic and related restrictions.
    • To maximize the impact of activities, the Subprogramme team also actively sought opportunities to use the available budget as seed funding to design much larger interventions. For instance, in Bangladesh, the Subprogramme is supporting the FAO Country Office to establish the baseline for a larger FAO–World Bank project on sustainable agriculture, which is expected to start by end of 2021.

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