Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Core food and agricultural indicators for measuring the private sector’s contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals

The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for collective transformational changes of all key actors in society. Businesses and the private sector more broadly can provide an important contribution to achieving the SDGs, although their specific role is not sufficiently mainstreamed in the SDG agenda.

SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production) and target 12.6 explicitly encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and integrate sustainability information in their reporting. As the custodian agency of SDG indicator 12.6.1(number of companies publishing sustainability reports), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) developed the Guidance on core indicators for entity reporting on the contribution towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (GCI). UNCTAD’s GCI provides a useful starting point for assessing corporate performance on the SDGs as a set of standard baseline indicators. FAO has sought to build off of UNCTAD’s indicators by identifying additional indicators and tailoring guidance to assess the specific impact of food and agriculture private actors on the achievement of the SDGs.

The resulting Core Food and Agricultural Indicators for Measuring the Private Sector Contribution to the SDGs Supplement Guideline provides practical information on how to measure the contribution of food- and agriculture private actors to the SDGs in a consistent manner and in alignment with countries’ needs on monitoring the attainment of the SDG agenda. The indicators address four sub-sectors of the food and agriculture sector, namely: i) agriculture production (crop and animal production and aquaculture); ii) food processing, iii) food wholesale, and iv) food retail. For each indicator, the guideline provides the definition, rationale, measurement methodology and conceptual interpretation. The links and alignment of each indicator with relevant SDG indicators are also included.

The indicators and associated methodological guidelines are the result of an extensive review of existing frameworks and key standards, and wide internal peer review among FAO’s technical departments.

The Office of the Chief Statistician of FAO invites you to review the draft indicators and guideline and provide feedback as part of wider efforts to seek feedback within the UN agencies and partner institutions, and pilot testing of the indicators with private organisations. The indicators will then be finalised based on the input received through this consultation process and pilot testing, and launched alongside the Food Systems Summit later this year. FAO will work with countries and relevant partners across UN agencies and standard setting bodies to support private sector organisations in using the indicators, and support national governments and wider stakeholders on integrating information into overall analysis and reporting of progress on the SDGs.  

We are seeking input on the questions outlined below. Please feel free to choose the question(s) where you can share the most relevant input and expertise.

1. Scope

  • Are the most relevant sectors and areas with respect to the private sector’s impact on the SDG agenda covered? Are the associated indicators adequate to measure private sector entities’ contribution to the SDGs? If not, where are the gaps? Are there any indicators included which are superfluous and why?
  • The framework is food-centric for the downstream sectors (food processing, food wholesale and food retail), and the scope of the guidance at the production level only includes crop and livestock production as well as aquaculture. Is the inclusion of aquaculture but not fishing the right approach given the similar impacts of aquaculture with other types of agricultural production? Should the framework be applicable to the forestry sector and if so, which aspects should be considered?
  • Would it be helpful to include the specific list of indicators which apply to each type of production, e.g. aquaculture, livestock, crop production?
  • For certain sustainability issues, the performance of an entity cannot be assessed without going beyond the entity’s direct operations. Some indicators take into consideration reporting entities’ relationships with their suppliers or suppliers’ impact in the reporting entity’s overall performance:
  1. Indicators related to reporting entity’s relationship with suppliers:  A.5.1 Proportion of local procurement, A.5.2 Fair pricing and transparent contracts,
  2. Indicators related to impact of suppliers: B.1.4 Water Management practices, B.2.3 GHG emissions (scope 3), B.2.4 GHG Emissions management, B.7.1 Land conversion, B.7.3 Sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity, C.4.2 Incidence/frequency rates of occupational injuries, C.5.1 Incidents of non-compliance with child labour laws, C.6.3. Non-compliance in food safety and food quality, C.7.1. Non-compliance with land tenure rights regulations, D.2.1. Amount of fines paid and payable due to corruption-related settlements, D.3.1 Management of risks to people, planet and society through supply chain due diligence. For the other indicators, entities are encouraged to assess and report on suppliers’ performance alongside their own reporting.

Does this approach capture the relevant sustainability issues related to suppliers? Is it clear where reporting entities need to be requesting information from suppliers?

2. Clarity

  • Is the supplementary guidance clear in terms of type of private entities targeted and reporting rules?
  • Can entities easily evaluate if their activities and the commodities they purchase, produce, process, manipulate and/or sell are in scope for each indicator? If not, how could this be improved?

3. Feasibility

  • Do private sector organisations have access to the type of data required to assess performance against the indicators? If not, is it feasible for them to collect it?
  • Do companies have country-level information in order to provide disaggregated data by country to feed into SDG monitoring/reporting?

4. Ease of use

  • Does the guidance make it easy enough for private sector entities to understand how to calculate their performance against each indicator? If not, where is improvement needed?
  • Is there sufficient supplementary guidance in terms of links to additional materials and definitions?

5. Qualitative vs. quantitative indicators

  • Are there ways to make any of the qualitative indicators quantitative and how? Qualitative indicators are: A.2.3 Financial Risk Management, A.5.2 Fair pricing and transparent contracts, B.1.4 Water management practices, B.2.4 GHG emissions management, B.7.3 Sustainable use and conversion of biodiversity, B.9.2 Management of pesticides, B.10.2 Management of fertilizers, C.6.1 Food labelling, C.6.2 Practices promoting sustainable healthy diets, D.3.1 Management of risks to people, planet and society through supply chain due diligence.
  1. For example, would it be preferable to replace the indicator in C.6.2 which focuses on practices with an indicator on the percentage of the entity’s marketing budget spent on promoting healthy foods?

6. Adequacy of specific indicators

  • B.7.1 Land conversion: Do the three sub-indicators address the issues with land conversion as related to the achievement of SDG 15?
  • B.7.2 Habitat area protected: Where there is no natural habitat in the reporting entity’s production area, should there be a requirement for reporting on restoration or ‘rewilding’ to create habitat?
  • C.1.2 Average hourly earnings of all employees: Would it be better to formulate this indicator as ‘Percentage of employees and other workers paid above a living wage, disaggregated by occupation, gender, age, and disability status’?
  • C.6.3 Non-compliance in food safety and food quality: Is it relevant to include incidents of non-compliance with GFSI certification as part of this indicator?
  • D.3.1 Management of risks to people, planet and society through supply chain due diligence: Does this indicator capture well entities’ institutional efforts and commitments to identify and address social and environmental risks along the value chain?  

Comments are welcome in English, Spanish or French. The consultation is open until April 30th, 2021.

We thank you very much for taking the time to provide your feedback on the core indicators and guideline. Your input will be very valuable in ensuring that they are effective at contributing towards measurement of progress on SDGs.

Pietro Gennari, Chief Statistician, Office of the Chief Statistician, FAO

Valerie Bizier, Senior Statistician, Office of the Chief Statistician, FAO

This activity is now closed. Please contact [email protected] for any further information.

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Spanish and French translations below

Dear members of the FSN Forum, 

Thank you to all of the contributors who spent the time to go through FAO's Core Food and Agriculture Indicators for measuring the private sector contribution to the SDGs to provide your insightful feedback. The range and depth of experience in this area among the contributors is obvious and will greatly assist us in finalising the indicators and ensuring that they are fit for purpose. From the comments covering the full set of indicators to those focused on specific areas, we've been impressed and encouraged by the solutions that you've outlined for how to better capture the private sector contribution to the SDGs. 

With the online consultation now closed, we will now do an in-depth analysis of all of the feedback received and integrate it into the final version of the indicators. We may call on some of you if we have specific questions on how best to address your feedback. 

The final version of the indicators will be launched alongside the Food Systems Summit with a set of case studies outlining the experience of private sector companies in using the indicators. 

We look forward to sharing the final indicators and working with all of you to improve the way that data on the SDGs is reported, collected, and used. 

Thank you again to all those who participated, 

Pietro Gennari and Valerie Bizier

Estimados miembros del Foro FSN,

Gracias a todos los participantes que han dedicado su tiempo a revisar los indicadores alimentarios y agrícolas básicos de la FAO para medir la contribución del sector privado a los ODS y que han aportado sus valiosos comentarios. La variedad y la profundidad de las experiencias de los contribuyentes en este ámbito son evidentes y nos ayudarán en gran medida a finalizar los indicadores y a garantizar que sean adecuados para su propósito. Desde los comentarios que abarcan todo el conjunto de indicadores hasta los que se centran en áreas específicas, nos han impresionado y animado las soluciones alcanzadas para captar mejor la contribución del sector privado a los ODS.

Una vez cerrada la consulta en línea, haremos un análisis exhaustivo de todos los comentarios recibidos y los integraremos en la versión final de los indicadores. Podríamos contactar con algunos de ustedes si tenemos preguntas específicas sobre la mejor manera de abordar sus comentarios.

La versión final de los indicadores se presentará junto con la Cumbre sobre los Sistemas Alimentarios, con un conjunto de estudios de caso que describen la experiencia de las empresas del sector privado en el uso de los indicadores.

Estamos deseando compartir los indicadores finales y trabajar con todos ustedes para mejorar la forma en que se comunican, recopilan y utilizan los datos sobre los ODS.

Nuestro agradecimiento de nuevo a todos los que han participado,

Pietro Gennari y Valerie Bizier

Chères/Chers membres du Forum FSN,

Merci à tous les participants qui ont pris le temps d'examiner les Indicateurs clés de l'alimentation et de l'agriculture de la FAO pour mesurer la contribution du secteur privé à la réalisation des ODD et de donner leur avis. Les expériences présentées dans ce domaine sont particulièrement riches et profondes et contribueront énormément à la définition des indicateurs et à leur adéquation. Qu'il s’agisse de commentaires couvrant l'ensemble des indicateurs ou portant sur des domaines spécifiques, nous avons été impressionnés et inspirés par les solutions proposées pour mieux saisir la contribution du secteur privé aux ODD.

Puisque la consultation en ligne est maintenant terminée, nous allons procéder à une analyse approfondie de tous les commentaires reçus et les intégrer dans la version finale des indicateurs. Il est possible que nous fassions appel à certains d'entre vous en cas de questions spécifiques sur la meilleure façon de répondre à vos commentaires.

La version finale des indicateurs sera présentée parallèlement au Sommet sur les systèmes alimentaires, accompagnée d'une série d'études de cas décrivant l'expérience des entreprises du secteur privé dans l'utilisation des indicateurs.

Nous souhaitons vivement communiquer les indicateurs finaux et collaborer avec vous tous pour améliorer la présentation, la collecte et l'utilisation des données relatives aux ODD.

Merci encore à toutes les personnes qui ont participé à cette discussion,

Pietro Gennari et Valérie Bizier

Thanks for launching this consultation process. A few comments:

- Yes, fishing and forestry should be included;

- Animal welfare should be included as well;

- Where possible, indicators to measure the efforts to reduce food waste should be included;

- Activities related to responsible advertising and promotion of healthy foods should be covered;

- Sustainable sourcing for food packaging should be included.



On the Indicators of Contribution by Private Sector in Food and Agriculture to the Achievement of SDG’s

The descriptive framework provided for this discussion, seem to suffer from two major inadequacies. Their coherence with respect to the SDG’s appears questionable while as one contributor has already pointed out, they lack inclusivity. This contribution suggests a holistic approach to indicator design. It is based on the tenet that an indicator ought to show the extent to which a given set of actions has enabled a certain group of people achieve a specified objective.

The purpose of attempting to achieve the SDG’s is to enhance the quality of life of everybody. As it has been described in the parallel discussion on child labour, this requires that everybody should be able adequately to satisfy their six fundamental needs:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Good health
  3. Security in its justifiable sense; it includes safety from the inclemencies of the weather (housing and clothing), physical danger from animals, other people (lack of law and order, war, etc.), threat to personal belongings, various forms of discrimination etc.
  4. Education in its justifiable sense, i.e., enabling an individual to develop one’s innate abilities and skills which one may use to meet one’s fundamental needs.
  5. Procreation; education enabling one to understand that the equilibrium between the living species and the ecosystems services on which their existence depends, demands the qualitative and quantitative biodiversity among them. This quantitative dimension imposes a limit on the number of individuals of every living species with no exceptions. Hence, procreation ought to be guided by family planning.
  6. The set of non-material goals; so called because their achievement does not result in a material gain. For Example, aesthetic enjoyment, engaging in games and sports for pleasure, entertainment of varying quality.

The justifiable purpose of engaging in pursuits connected with food and agriculture is enabling people to obtain a sustainable, wholesome and adequate nutrition, for its value stems from the fact that after air and water, food is the most important thing needed to sustain life. Further, people derive a personal pleasure or a culinary enjoyment from their meals which is an established cultural good. Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that the direct indicators involved here, are those concerned with ascertaining the private sector’s contribution to these.

There seems to be some confusion around what may justifiably termed indirect indicators which are applicable here. They are indirect because they influence how one satisfies some other need in a positive or a negative way. When negative, it may impinge directly or indirectly on how well one is able to meet any one or more other needs. A brief explanation is given below to facilitate the understanding of this notion.

Emergence of agriculture was followed by that of division of labour and the barter system. Even at this early stage of human development, it is possible to distinguish between fundamental and secondary needs. Consider now two people; one is a skilled farmer while the other is a maker of good agricultural implements. Neither of them have the time nor the skill to do each other’s work satisfactorily. Barter system enables the former to meet his secondary need for farm tools by exchanging food for them.

It is important to grasp that here both farming and tools are secondary needs the farmer must meet in order to satisfy his fundamental need for nutrition. The tool maker’s secondary need to make tools is motivated by his desire to satisfy his nutritional needs through an exchange of his product for food. It will be easy to see how need for transport and energy become more and more important as human intellectual and technical advances proceed.

However, the barter system is rather clumsy. Therefore, value tokens of various forms ranging from coins to intangible credit were introduced. This enabled trade on an ever expanding basis, hence the tertiary need for money. Unfortunately, in spite of the emergence of non-secular and secular ethics, the introduction of value tokens accelerated the acceptance of the desire for power and unlimited wealth as an institutionalised social value by the majority.

Now, the reader will be able to trace the development of two networks of needs; one justifiable and the other not. Regardless of the political ‘ism’ it may profess, they co-exist in every society. In the first, the six fundamental needs subsume a varied and increasing array of secondary needs whose prior satisfaction is a necessary condition for the satisfaction of the former. Satisfaction of those secondary needs often depends on satisfying the tertiary need for an income.

Second network of needs are subsumed by institutionalised value of unlimited personal gain, desire for power, prestige, publicity, etc. It cannot be justified by any civilised standard of common decency. Their existence has promoted the modern competitive economy which is essential to those who seek unlimited gain. Too often it is often overlooked that other things being equal, had it not been for cooperation, man would have remained what he was, viz., a mere mute brute, for emergence of language and education are impossible without it.

The foregoing makes clear two common confusions, viz., paying undue attention to what are secondary and tertiary needs instead of letting them branch out from fundamental needs in a logically cohesive manner and allowing a set of unjustifiable needs to promote the tertiary need for value tokens into a position of an unjustifiable primacy. For instance, one may have to travel some distance to buy food from a shop before it can be prepared and eaten which requires some means of transport, hence the need for money and not vice versa.

Another confusion seen in the present discussion is its failure to distinguish between two logically different categories and their sub-categories. They are food and and its mode of production. What is relevant to SDG-2 is the sustained availability and affordability of adequate amount of wholesome food. What is meaningful to ascertain is whether such an amount would be sufficient for a given group of people.

Naturally, what food is required for the purpose depends on a given group’s dietary habits as determined by their food culture. Food items needed here will vary widely; generally speaking, some staple item will be required in a larger quantity than others. Therefore, ascertaining the output from one or another food production method does not seem to serve a useful purpose.

Mode of food production has two elements; the methods in use and the people using them. The former are of crucial importance to the sustainability of food systems, hence their effect on the environment should be ascertained. However, despite the emotional reactions some groups in the second sub-category seems to evoke, their inclusion cannot be justified with reference to the achievement of SDG-2. It would be wiser to leave those issues to those best able to deal with them.

Meanwhile, man’s primitive food system consisted only of a harvesting system viz., hunting or gathering and consuming the harvest on the spot as the other primates do. As agriculture emerged, his environment was more or less replaced as his primary yielder sub-system by cultivation and animal husbandry. Fishery and collecting forest produce represent harvesting man’s oldest yielder sub-system. To day, a typical food system has the following sub-systems which often display a wide technological variation:

  • Yielder.
  • Supplementation; it represents the attempts to supplement the diminishing ecosystems services owing to continued land use by agriculture and population increase. These include irrigation, use of fertilisers and biocides, etc.
  • Harvesting.
  • Transport.
  • Storage.
  • Preservation.
  • Preparation; it includes actions needed to make food ready for consumption.
  • Selling sub-system; it may include fresh food, preserved or ready-to-eat items, etc. It may also contain its own sub-systems like sorting, packing and promotion.

It will be noticed that large scale commercialisation continues to intrude into every sub-system of food systems. However, family farms and small holders still play a vital role in nutrition. Even though they are essential elements of a food system, some of its sub-systems like transport, storage and selling are common to many other fields. Thus, the present task would be to identify what could accurately indicate the direct and indirect contribution to the SDG’s made by food systems run by the private sector.

It would be irresponsible to ignore the reality of food production; apart from those few places like Northern Russia, communcal food production rose and fell with the Bolshevik regime. True, a little of still lingers in afew places, but majority of food producing units are privately owned. The same applies to the other sub-systems in food systems. Therefore, use of the term ‘private’ in the current discussion appears to be redundant.

One can now expand on the direct and indirect indicators. However, it is necessary to examine the soundness of distinguishing between qualitative and quantitative indicators. Under unusual circumstances when the need for nutrition is acute, a temporary emphasis on quantitative aspect may be justified. This should not blind one to the danger of it being given a permanent emphasis in order to maximise profits. Hence, a pragmatic coalition between these in a double-faceted indicator is desirable.

Direct Indicators

These will reveal the private food systems’ positive or negative contribution to nutrition. They have several dimensions all of which are crucial to the SDG-2. The indicators pertinent to each are given  under the heading which describes it. Moreover, an indicator represents a relative increase or a decrease given as a percentage.

Sustainability; unless this is ensured, disastrous results may obtain.

1. Biodiversity in yielder sub-system; its increase reduces the vulnerability of agriculture and animal husbandry to diseases. Promotion of the local food culture seems to be an appropriate way of achieving this.

2 .The extent of food wastage in food systems; this may occur in every sub-system of it.

3. Loss of soil fertility, erosion, pollution and salination; one may look up the Aral Sea disaster resulting from agro-industry which turned a huge area salinated and barren which left tens of thousands helpless.

4. Promotion of ecologically sound agriculture.

5. Use of the most energy efficient methods including modes of transport; priority ought to be given to water and rail transport as much as possible.

6. Effect on local pollinators; their presence is said to increase yields by as much as 25%.

7. The extent of over harvesting from the environment; this is most concerned with over fishing but in some cases, it may involve forest products as in felling sago palms to extract the starch they contain.

8. The extent of mixed cultivation; its benefits to the environment are many.

9. Emission of so-called ‘green house’ gases.

10. Water conservation; this is very relevant in some areas. Selection of crops suited to the degree of aridity of an area, harvesting rain and use of covered irrigation channels are among the solutions proposed.

Availability; this dimension has six aspects on which its indicators are based. Although food wastage affects availability, sustainability has a logically prior claim on it.

11. The extent to which the available food items enable the people of an area to partake of a wholesome, varied and balanced diet. It reflects the food diversity of an area. It is logically impossible to determine this with reference to any universal standard, it should rather be determined relative to the local food culture. However, if that should prove to be nutritionally deficient, appropriate additions may be made.

12. Quantitative sufficiency of the food items in 11 for the people in the area concerned. Surplus food may be disposed of either through trade or laying it aside as a reserve.

13. Quality of the above items with reference not only to their nutritive value, but also to their ability to enhance people’s culinary enjoyment which depends on their freshness and flavour and not to cosmetic properties like colour and large, uniform size.

14. Adequacy of the transport system and its cost between food producers and end-users.

15. Distribution, adequacy and the cost of storage facilities of the food systems concerned.

16. Accessibility which depends on the number of outlet locations from where food may be conveniently procured by all the people of the area concerned. These may include shops, stalls, restaurants, etc. Their aggregation in a few places would not make food easily accessible to some who reside in remoter parts, especially where transport is difficult. Therefore, this should be ascertained with reference to the total population of the area.

17. Export of key food items; selling sub-systems may export food to increase profits cutting down the supply of food available for local use.

18. Amount of food from a local food system in storage that is not released into the outlets in the area. This is done to increase profits and causes an artificial shortage as well as a price increase.

19. Replacement of food crops by cash crops.

Affordability; this is a crucial indicator when taken in conjunction with indicators 11 to 17. High prices may often result in a pseudo-surplus which merely benefits the operators of the selling sub-system.

20. Price change in food items caused by the relevant indicators above.

The purpose of the indirect indicators is to ascertain what adverse effects food systems run by private sector may have on the people, which in turn may influence the availability and affordability of food.

21. The extent of job losses/redundancies in food systems owing to changes in them, purportedly undertaken to increase their efficiency. This would lead to an obvious reduction in affordability.

22. The incidence of the so-called NCD’s; beverages with a high sugar content, factory-made ready-to-eat comestibles and colourfully packaged sweets are thought to play a significant role here. These may reduce one’s earning capacity which could have an adverse impact on affordability.

Concluding Remarks

The foregoing is based on the assumption that a set of indicators are needed in order to decide on and guide some suitable actions to enhance people’s nutrition. Serving this purpose requires the indicators to be as comprehensive as possible. Looking at what is needed from a food system perspective seems to be a suitable approach to achieve such completeness. However, it will make statistical analysis difficult.

This is because some of the factors that adversely affect the availability and affordability of food originate from different sub-systems in the food system. Not only does the profit motive of the competitive economy plays a part here, so does also the variations in the ownership of transport sub-system. In many less affluent countries, the state-run communications remain inadequate. Resolution of these problems is beyond the scope of food and agriculture authorities.

Some may argue that weather conditions are critical for food production especially the snows for winter wheat and monsoon rains in tropics, and therefore, they ought to be included. The difficulty here is that it is still impossible to predict them with any significant degree of reliability. Even if it does, one can hardly do anything to directly influence them. It seems that undertaking steps to enhance those ecosystems services is a sounder alternative.

The notion of core-food items may make statistical work manageable, but this reductive notion would result in a set of indicators that could hardly guide one towards remedial action enabling the people procure a balanced diet, not to mention culinary enjoyment. In a world where the incidence of NCD’s is described as an ‘epidemic’, this limitation is a cause for concern.

Best wishes!

Lal Manavado.

To Whom It May Concern.

As Salaam Alaikum.

Are these Indicators, and the opportunity to comment on them, available in Local Languages or do you think that English, Spanish and French are sufficient to cover all the Stakeholders?

I think we need to work on AI-assisted Language Interfaces as a common Goal before we can target Sustainability in ANY Field.

Bon Chance!

Sardar Taimur Hyat-Khan

Barefoot Bioenvironmental Management and Sustainable Development Worker from Pakistan (Urdu).

Thanks very much, FAO for this initiative, and public consultation. While considering that FAO's "Core food and agricultural indicators for measuring the private sector’s contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals" is a comprehensive report I would like to suggest the followings;

1. It's good that you have considered water use efficiency and energy and transport efficiency widely. I propose to consider the efficiency of food production as well. Because increasing efficiency and productivity is highly essential to achieve sustainability. Using less or the same input to produce more output, reducing waste, and reducing negative externalities can be captured through efficiency measures.

2.  more emphasis on the individuals, smallholder farmers and village-based merchants which is the largest proportion of the farming community in most Asian countries is important rather than considering multinational corporations. Otherwise, this measurement will lose part of the important segment of developing countries.  Though measuring will be difficult it will give more meaning to the measurement.

3. Further, causes for supply chain disruptions during pandemic, food waste during the pandemic due to sudden lockdowns, quality, and sustainability of emerging methods of food delivering, and the contribution of the private sector to mitigate such problems are some of the other areas  should be considered. 

Sajeevani Weerasekara, Sri Lanka

The agri-food system supporting the globalization and massive consumtpion of ultra-processed foods is no more sustainable for small farmers, animal well-being, environment, socio-economics, culinary traditions and human health. The producers are incited to produce massive cheap food ingredients under pressure of multinational and mass retailing for ultra-processed foods. Therefore, the food value chain should be rethink with more emphasis on producers, and developing more minimal food processing by private sector to supply foods respecting food accessibility, safety, nutritional and environmental securities. Food transformation should be relocalized and fragmented to adapt more to what can be produced locally in respect of sustainability.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and explicitly target SDG 8.7 on the elimination of all forms of child labour by 2025, the private sector plays a key role. Companies and the private sector are expected to adopt more sustainable practices in the ways they conduct business, ensuring that child labour is not used along their supply chains. One way in which the food and agricultural private sector can contribute to the elimination of child labour in agriculture is through sustainability reporting standards. Over the last decade, numerous accounting and sustainability reporting standards have been developed, enabling companies to improve their practices towards sustainability. In the case of child labour in agriculture, indicators can be included in the sustainability reporting standards to measure the positive and conducive transformation in business practices. 

The indicator on child labour in agriculture could be reformulated to focus on: Measures applied to address cases of non-compliance with child labour national and international laws. In this manner, private sector could report on the positive contribution to address encountered cases of child labour.

The indicator on one hand can capture the situation of child labour the business faces:

  • The total number of incidents of non-compliance with laws, regulations and/or international standards regarding child labour. And whether the incidents involved the worst forms of child labour (including hazardous work, forced labour, slavery, etc.). 
  • The indicators should include data disaggregation by age, gender, and migrant/national child labourer, and report the agricultural tasks undertaken by children. 

On the other hand, the indicator on child labour can also capture the transformation of businesses towards the prevention and reduction of child labour in agriculture, capturing:

  • Total number of measures and activities applied to address cases of non-compliance with child labour national and international laws. 
  • The type of measures and activities implemented: addressed hazardous work (removal of hazard), incentives to school attendance, increased access to education or training, care facilities, implemented labour-saving technologies, provided fair prices for farmers and fair wages for workers to reduce family's economic burden, or other relevant actions. 

Such reporting systems can be used by businesses not only to monitor the situation of child labour in agriculture, but also to highlight positive and progressive actions and measures implemented to reduce child labour in agriculture. Reporting also on positive progress or changes can contribute to a more positive and open dialogue with businesses and their important role in reducing child labour through transformative approaches. 

The following can also be considered as indicators in servicing some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

1. Product Accessibility.

2. Product Affordability.

3. Satiety of the Products.

4. Long-term Sustainability of Product Supply.

5. Variety Production from the same Core Foods.

Varieties of products should be produced from the Core Foods and capable of providing satisfaction upon consumption (satiety). These products should be affordable and always accessible having assured its long-term sustainability in production and supply, thereby ensuring food security. 


1. Not all the Food and Allied Industry Players use the same Agricultural Indicators, both in the same and in different countries. Variations in the use of the indicators in many countries are equivalent to variations in impact/result.

2. There are discrepancies in standard amongst usable indicators available in most countries.

3. Absence of/little/inefficient monitoring and evaluation on the part of Standard Organizations/Agencies over the effectiveness and impacts of the agricultural indicators as adopted by the Food and Allied Industry Players.

4. Playing at variance and personalizing competition - the reason for the gap between standard and sub-standard products. The gap could be seen in product price differences, safety, and quality of comparable products. Most Private Sectors engage in open wars and can go to any length (including spiritual) to stop their perceived competitors, thereby seeking Monopoly with their blood. These seekers forgot that the world and the population therein are too large to accommodate several competitors of the same product.


1. Just as we have 17 SDGs being projected and adopted by all countries of the world, we should also have enlisted Agricultural Indicators as well as their various standards of measurement for quantifiable results/impacts especially on the related SDGs. The list may be subjected to review in every two years with respect to Technology Advancement.

2. A particular indicator could have 2 - 3 evaluation methodology such that any country in the world must find at least one method that will give them equivalent/expected result/impact.

3. Every member country that adopted SDGs should be mandated to set up functional Standard Organization/Agency that will use the enlisted Agricultural Indicators as yardsticks in measuring the impacts by the Food and Allied Industry Players in achieving the SDGs.

4. Partnerships especially in terms of knowledge sharing and networking should exist between the various Private Sectors in the spirit of sportsmanship.

With regards;


Food Sci. & Tech. Graduate Student,

University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN.

As I reviewed your introductory material on Agriculture indicators for the Private sector contributions of SDGs, from the perspective of an agronomist mostly interested in stimulating smallholder production for both crops and livestock, I am convinced the private enterprises are the primary and most effective means of supporting smallholders. However, I think your analysis needs to put more emphasis on the small village-based family enterprises that are in direct contact with smallholder farmers, rather than your emphasis on large corporations including the multi-nationals. These family enterprises are what most smallholders rely on to provide vast majority of their support services most noticeable production inputs and marketing produce where they are the primary link between the farmers/producers and the large private corporations serving the agricultural needs of the country. In addition to these well-established services the family enterprises also provide essential contract mechanization services for basic land preparation and crop establishment, as well as threshing and other mechanizable post-harvest needs. The need for contract mechanization services in smallholder communities, may be essential to achieving many of the SDGs. It is the only means to overcome what I provocative refer to as the Genocide Oversight, of developing labor-intensive innovations that attempt to compel smallholder farmers to exert up to twice the caloric energy they have access to. Furthermore, it might be the key to minimizing the need to convert marginal lands from cropping, but halving the total crop establishment time, reducing the delayed establishment yield loss to the food needs can be meet with less land, and more left in natural vegetation. Please review: ; ;

Also, I think history has shown these contract mechanization services can only be provided by through the family enterprise system as only when you have an owner/operator will the mechanical maintenance be maintained for the full designed life of the machinery. Historically any form of joint ownership of mechanization has proven dismal. This would include government mechanization units and even producer organization. When these have attempted to provide mechanization services the equipment has been surveyed out of service with less than half the designed service hours, often as little as one-third. It might also lead to some off-the-book charges for access to the mechanization, or operators vandalizing the odometers so they can service additional areas without accounting for the services.

While the village-based family enterprises will provide most of the immediate needs of the producers, it may be difficult to get detailed information on their business activity. They tend to operate on minimum records mostly kept in notebooks. This may be deliberate and beneficial as it would limit the ability of tax collectors to determine any taxes due.

I would also be highly skeptical on including producer organizations as private sector enterprise. While they are highly promoted by academia and imposed by the development community for their social desirability, a careful analysis of the competitiveness would quickly show they are non-competitive in open competition with family enterprises, and if smallholder fully relied on them, they would force the members deeper into poverty. The result is they attract only a small percent of the potential beneficiaries and even those who agree to participate will divert most of their business to the competing private service provider. Thus, they require continued external facilitation and collapse once almost immediately after external support ends. When viewed objectively they are a real scandal. Please review: ; ;

FAO Core food and agricultural indicators for measuring the private sector’s contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals – IAFN Feedback

The International Agri-food Network (IAFN) applauds the effort made to respond to the gaps in-country monitoring and report to effectively recognize the significant contribution of the private sector.  The present task is timely and critical to assessing the achievement against the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Private Sector actors have undertaken a multitude of tasks to further the SDGs and have attempted to include them in their operating frameworks.  The Private Sector is also engaged in many large-scale coordination initiatives to build trust across supply chains, ensure that business contributions to the SDGs remain positive and coherent.  Moreover, advancements by business in technology and precision agriculture will aid in the development of new business models, the advanced of sustainable production and consumption practices, the tracking of data and enablement of data driven decision-making, knowledge transfer and capacity building—all of which will contribute to the delivery of the Agenda 2030. 

However, the task of collecting the extent of the contribution through the proposed framework is too ambitious.  Dedicating the time to review the 100+ pages of the Methodological Note of Core indicators called for by this consultation is frankly too prohibitive for many private sector actors.  The scope of the work would be overwhelming for many large companies, let alone SMEs and MSMEs.  It would be helpful to align more effectively with the ESG reporting of companies and to focus on fewer metrics to ensure companies can readily respond to some, if not all the information requested, without disincentivizing them from participating altogether.   In this respect, we welcome a pilot project to focus on the ways to synergize this with existing systems, and to narrow the scope to those areas where business can provide the most impactful information.