Within the agricultural space, it’s important to understand how different tools and programmes relate to one another.

The SHERPA online management system, developed by Blue North Sustainability, is a valuable capacity-building tool focused on supporting any agriculture or food businesses in the implementation of sustainability strategies that reflect their unique contexts, priorities, and capacities. Clients make use of SHERPA to conduct strategic assessments that inform their strategy development, but which can also be used to evaluate performance against multiple agricultural standards mapped into SHERPA to determine where risks of non-compliance are potentially present. Action plans to address these risk areas can then be developed and integrated into the overall improvement plan.  The SHERPA tool incorporates a suite of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be monitored by management to track and assess progress toward a range of economic, social, and environmental sustainability goals. SHERPA also serves as a central information repository – all the records, data, notes, action plans, and uploaded files compiled within SHERPA are easily accessed in support of third-party audit processes that an agricultural member may be subjected to.

The SIZA programme, in comparison, is a comprehensive standard and audit programme that walks alongside agricultural members in their ethical and environmental compliance journey. This journey begins with capacity-building initiatives, such as training and freely-available templates/guidelines as part of a comprehensive toolkit, before progressing to the annual completion of Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQs) and third-party audit programme as required by local and global buyers. SIZA audits are conducted by approved third-party Audit Firms to ensure credibility and independence of data. This entire process is recorded, traced, and monitored via SIZA’s online MySIZA platform. With permission from suppliers, links can be created between supplier and buyer profiles on MySIZA to provide visibility through the supply chain.

SIZA’s Digital Recordkeeping programme is hosted on the same MySIZA platform and is available to producers and packhouses/processors globally. After signing up, members are able to complete annual cycles of KPI data collection which can be live-tracked using interactive, digital dashboards – once an annual cycle of data collection has been completed, members can then choose to 1) create comprehensive annual or multi-year PDF reports of their data and 2) request a carbon footprint calculation via a partnership with the Confronting Climate Change Initiative.

By making use of the SHERPA management tool in support of the SIZA programme, South African agricultural members can confidently embark on their ethical and environmental compliance journey alongside supportive partners who understand the challenges and opportunities present nationally.