FSA – The Swiss Army Knife for Agriculture
“It was great to see such demand for FSA training, both from those wanting to learn and from those wanting to teach and share their experiences” – Joe Rushton, FSA Manager, SAI Platform.
On 27-29 June, the first Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) Training Event was held in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. An enthusiastic and diverse group of participants including manufacturers, retailers, processors, as well as certification bodies and NGOs, gathered to understand, learn and share the full scope of the FSA toolset.
The 3-day programme included an in-depth introduction to FSA tools and instruments, hands-on practice with the latest online FSA Web-App and an up-close on the FSA audit and verification framework. Participants heard from the valuable experiences and insights on a visit to Gert Jan van Dongen’s FSA verified farm in Zeewolde, an area of arable land reclaimed from the sea. Other modules over the course of the 3-days included a detailed guide to FSA terminology accompanied by interactive sessions on implementing FSA at farm and supply chain level. A case study from SAI Platform member, innocent drinks described the personal journey involved in the planning, gap-analysis and the on-farm engagement to implement the FSA.
Speaking about why he had organised the FSA Training Event, Sven Sielhorst, FSA Programme Lead stated – “We wanted to help participants understand better how to use the FSA toolset to work on sustainable agriculture in their supply chain. The key to this is effective engagement structured around a common understanding of aspired results. This really came to life in the rich experience that many of the participants shared with the group”.
The speakers and content from the event stimulated a lot of meaningful exchange and discussion on personal experiences. Attending the event and one of SAI Platform’s newest members Frank Lüpke-Narberhaus, Head of Procurement, Wernsing commented – “The discussions during the FSA training demonstrated to me that every user and company has to go on its own journey. Being here as a SAI Platform member and learning from the pre-competitive knowledge exchange will help us on along our journey a lot.”
Participant and SAI Platform member Catherine Roué, Purchasing Manager for Kalsec spoke about the interactive sessions – “We gained a thorough understanding of the FSA tool and utilisation schemes. We had the chance to test the new features of the FSA 2.1, and the exchange with Bruce and Mathieu from ITC was extremely useful. This new version of the tool is definitely going to help us at Kalsec progress more efficiently on our sustainability journey”.
Described in the opening as the – “Swiss army knife for agriculture” – there was agreement by the closing session that the Farm Sustainability Assessment programme has a multifaceted nature. It features a harmonisation framework on the supply chain level, it is globally applicable as an inclusive tool currently in practice in 40 countries and it guides agri-food business so supply chains can work with each other and talk with each other. It is integrated with other sector initiatives GLOBALG.A.P., Cool Farm Alliance and Field to Market and offers traceability from the FSA Web-App. Importantly, the FSA helps open the dialogue with farmers through one common language for sustainable agriculture, a vital component to maximise the full benefits of the FSA programme.
Upcoming: a new FSA training event has been announced for later this year. This latest Farm Sustainability Assessment training will explore how the FSA can be used to engage with farmers while assessing and improving their sustainability performance. Focus will also concentrate on the option of getting FSA self-assessments verified.
More information to follow.