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Many farmer experiences with new technologies and promising crops stay just that, experiences, and promises. Implementing and scaling up technologies requires evaluation. Here we highlight a resource called the Tool for Agroecology Performance Evaluation (TAPE), developed by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). FAO is focusing on empowering the creation of sustainable and local food and agriculture systems by encouraing interdependent elements of diverse agricultural systems. Agroecology puts people at the center and respects cultural and food traditions while increasing efficiency and use/reuse of local inputs. Agroecology seeks to use these elements to progress through five levels (according to Gliessman):  

  1. Increase the efficiency of industrial and conventional practices to reduce using costly, scarce, or damaging inputs. 
  2. Substitute alternatives for industrial/conventional inputs and practices. 
  3. Redesign the agroecosystem so that it functions based on ecological processes.
  4. Set up a direct connection between those who grow our food and consumers. 
  5. On the foundation created by the sustainable farm-scale agroecosystems (3), and the new relationships of sustainability (4), build a new global food system, based on equity, participation, democracy, and justice, that is sustainable, and helps restore and protect earth’s life support systems.

TAPE is a tool that measures the multidimensional performance of agricultural systems at different scales and in different contexts using the ten elements of agroecology. The ten elements of agroecology are: diversity, co-creation and sharing of knowledge, synergies, efficiency, recycling, resilience, human and social values, culture and food traditions, responsible governance, and circular and solidarity economy.

TAPE uses a stepwise approach at the smallholder level and collects information that provides useful results at the larger scale. This tool can be used to evaluate farming systems and projects to bring an agroecological focus to diverse activities across the dimensions of sustainability. FAO designed the tool for ease of use regarding training and data collection. Combined with other agricultural indictators, the tool can be used to provide additional characterizations of land tenure, economics, diet, and women/youth empowerment.

TAPE could help systematize diverse experiences and the different crops that ECHO promotes to ease world hunger and improve livelihoods. For an example of TAPE’s recent applicatoins, FAO and partners used TAPE to evaluate smallholder systems in Kayes, Mali, and found that more agroecologically advanced farming systems improved youth engagement with farming, income from agropastoral practices, dietary diversity, and other production and environmental sustainability indicators (Lucantoni et al., 2023). 

For further information:

FAO’s Agroecology Knowledge Hub

Tool for Agroecology Performance Evaluation (TAPE)

Agroecology at FAO

Steve Gliessman’s resources 

Abram Bicksler’s talk entitled “UN Agencies - Friend or Foe?”


Lucantoni, D., M.R. Sy, M. Goita, M. Veyret-Picot, M. Vicovaro, A. Bicksler, and A. Mottet. 2023. Evidence on the multidimensional performance of agroecology in Mali using TAPE. Agricultural Systems. 204(1–3):103499.