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The Green Choice Alliance Living Farms Reference and M&E Framework

Green Choice Alliance (GCA) was formed in 2008 and is currently hosted by Conservation South Africa. The initiative was founded out of a need for a common platform where organizations and initiatives practising sustainable agriculture could learn from each other and use their collective power to canvass support. In addition, due to continuing threats to farmers from escalating food demand brought on by exponential population growth, the existing degradation of ecosystems and a rapidly changing climate, it was imperative to promote sustainability in the agriculture and farming sector. The GCA provides research, monitoring, communications and convening support to the various partners who were already engaging in agro-environmental initiatives but without any cohesive communication platform or standard method to monitor and evaluate their conservation and socio-economic gains. 
Various initiatives and sustainability guidelines exist internationally and there are local certification systems, land management legislation, and methodologies for sustainable farming. However the GCA identified the need for a single document that brings together current knowledge on sustainable farm management in South Africa. Hence the Living Farms Reference was developed in 2009. The Living Farms Reference (LFR) is a generic reference for good agricultural and land management practice, and biodiversity conservation that are based on basic sustainability principles that can be applied across all production sectors in the country.  It is information rich and is intended as a master or ‘source’ document that can be customized for specific agricultural sectors. 
Following a multi-stakeholder consultation process with experts from agriculture and independent consultants, the GCA went on to develop a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Framework for on-farm activities to complement the principles of the LFR with clear indicators that monitor sustainable agriculture and good land use practice. The M&E framework uses participatory action research and reporting where farmers actively log daily activities that can be recorded in books or an Excel tool. The monitoring data collected is based on a set of 10 indicators that are used to assess the performance of farmers, communities and agro-environmental initiatives and to measure whether they are achieving sustainability as guided by the principles embedded in the LFR. The 10 indicators are as follows; (1) Yield (2) Land use efficiency (3) Biodiversity (4) Alien plant removal (5) Soil Health (6) Toxicity (7) Water availability & quality (8) GHG footprint (9) Human wildlife conflict (10) Livelihoods.
The goal of sustainable agriculture is to ensure that any adverse impacts of farming on the environment are minimized, to demonstrate good stewardship of natural resources, and to enhance social well-being whilst providing a sustained level of production and profit. The LFR and M&E Framework are very useful tools that are being used to ensure that agriculture and farming are sustainable at the local and landscape level. The LFR and GCA M&E tools are available on the Conservation South Africa Website via the following link:  Please let us know if you use it and if you have any feedback!

Farayi Madziwa
Policy & Markets

Click the image for a view of: Towards sustainable agricultural systems
Towards sustainable agricultural systems

Posted: 7/23/2013 (2:59:51 AM)


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