SDGs: Indicator 2.4.1 | Land Portal

Proportion of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture


Last updated on 1 February 2022

This indicator is currently classified as Tier II. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the Custodian agency for this indicator.

Unit of measure: The indicator is unitless, expressing a ratio between area under sustainable and productive agriculture and total agricultural land area (%).


Why is this indicator important?

Harmful, unsustainable agricultural practices from extractive industries, large-scale agricultural producers, and peasants can pose significant risks to people and the environment. While sustainable agriculture was mainly defined by environmental criteria in the past, its economic and social dimension as come to the fore. A farm can only be sustainable if it is well managed and the well-being of those working at the farm is taken into consideration.

The indicator was developed through a multi-stakeholder process to ensure capturing the complex nature of sustainable agriculture.


How is the indicator measured and monitored?

The indicator’s scope centers around the agricultural land area of a farm holding including, extensive crop and livestock production systems, subsistence agriculture, agro-forestry, and aquaculture that takes place within the agricultural land area. Excluded are state and common land that is not used exclusively by farm holdings, pastoral pastures, backyard farming, forestry and aquaculture holdings. Agricultural area is defined as arable land plus land under permanent crops, meadows, and pastures.

The methodology was endorsed in late 2019, including both national farm surveys as a single data collection instrument as well as multi-dimensional data sources. According to the metadata document, data is collected through agricultural surveys or as integrated modules in already existing household surveys (e.g., AGRISurvey and the 50x2030 initiative) organized by national statistical agencies, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other international agencies. In addition, sensing, GIS, administrative data, or environmental monitoring systems were further identified as cost-effective instruments.

FAO, together with the Global Strategy to improve Agriculture and Rural Statistics (GSARS), have developed the capacity development material necessary for this indicator, such as a methodological guide, an enumerator manual, calculation document and an e-learning course.


By Anne Hennings, peer-reviewed by FAO.


Official indicator data

The area under productive and sustainable agriculture captures the three dimensions of sustainable production (environmental, economic and social) along the following eleven themes and sub-indicators: land productivity, profitability, resilience, soil health, water use, fertilizer pollution risk, biodiversity, pesticide risk, food security, land tenure, and decent employment.

No official data is currently available.


Other related indicators on Land Portal

As official data is not yet available, the following indicators provide information concerning land area that is under certified organic use or in conversion.


Land area (1'000 Ha) exclusively dedicated to organic agriculture and managed by applying organic agriculture methods. It refers to the land area fully converted to organic agriculture.

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

Agricultural area (1'000 Ha) which is going through the organic conversion process, usually two years period of conversion to organic land.

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

Agricultural Area (1'000 Ha) is the land area mainly devoted to agriculture. It includes arable land, permanent crops, and permanent pasture, as defined by FAO.

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

Arable land (1'000 Ha) is the land under temporary agricultural crops (multiple-cropped areas are counted only once), temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

Area (1'000 Ha) part of "Arable land", exclusively dedicated to organic agriculture and managed by applying organic agriculture methods.

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

Part of the area (1'000 Ha) of the "Arable land" which is going through the organic conversion process, usually two years period of conversion to organic land.

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

Area (1'000 Ha) obtained as the sum of areas under “Arable land certified organic” and "Arable land area in conversion to organic”

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

Land used permanently (five years or more) to grow herbaceous forage crops through cultivation or naturally (wild prairie or grazing land).

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

Land cultivated with long-term crops which do not have to be replanted for several years (such as cocoa and coffee), land under trees and shrubs producing flowers (such as roses and jasmine), and n

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

SDG Land Tracker

Goal 2: Zero hunger
Target 2.4: By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality

Indicator details

Tier 2

The indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data is not regularly produced by countries.

Key dates: 

FAO Expert meeting for SDG indicator 2.4.1

3 April 2017 to 4 April 2017

This workshop brought together technical experts and statisticians to support the methodological work being conducted for SDG indicator 2.4.1.

Custodian agency: 

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

UNEP work encompasses:

  • Assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends

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