Living Income

Sustainable Food Lab, GIZ and ISEAL have recently partnered to create a Community of Practice around ‘living income’. This alliance of partners is dedicated to the vision of thriving, economically stable, rural communities linked to global food and agricultural supply chains. The goal of the Living Income Community of Practice is to support activities focused on improving smallholder incomes towards living income benchmarks, aiming to enable smallholder farmers to achieve a decent standard of living.  

The specific objectives of the Living Income Community of Practice are to:

  • Provide methods and guidance on measuring and reporting information related to current and living incomes.
  • Understand the gap between actual and living incomes.
  • Identify and discuss strategies to help actors take actions that can contribute to closing income gaps.

This partially builds on the ISEAL Global Living Wage Coalition’s work to establish a common methodology for Living Wage Benchmarks as the concepts of ‘living wage’ and ‘living income’ are both about achieving a decent standard of living for households. The idea of a living wage however, is applied in the context of hired workers (in factories, on farms), whereas living income is discussed in the context of any income earner, such as self- employed farmers.

The Community of Practice on Living Income is open to any entity (companies, sustainability standards, civil society, platforms, governments, researchers and producer groups) that is committed to learning on the topic of Living Income and improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers.


Please contact Marta Maireles <>, Friederike Martin <> or Kealy Sloan <ksloan@sustainablefood.orgif you’d like to be added to the distribution list for webinar dates or publications.

Visit the Living Income page on the Sustainable Food Lab website.

What is a Living Income?

Living income is the net income a household would need to earn to enable all members of the household to afford a decent standard of living. Elements of a decent standard of living thereby include: food, water, housing, education, health care, transport, clothing, and other essential needs including provision for unexpected events. (Living Income Practitioners‘ Workshop hosted by ISEAL & GIZ, Eschborn, February 2015)

Key documents

Living Income Fact Sheet (May 2017) (download)

NEW!! Enabling Smallholder Farmers to Improve their Incomes (download)

Measuring Smallholder Incomes: Towards better alignment and reporting of farm economic metrics (Nov 2016) (download)

Workshop report: Operationalizing Living Income (June 2016) (download)

Meeting report: Living Income - A Discussion on Methodology and Use (May 2015) (download)

Defining, Calculating and Using a Living Income Benchmark in the Context of Agricultural Commodities (May 2015) (download)

Introduction to the Living Income Concept in the Context of Agricultural Commodities (April 2015) (download)

Workshop documentation: Working towards the Calculation and Use of a Living Income Benchmark in Agricultureal Commodities (Feb 2015) (download)

Towards an integrated approach for project analysis for small farmers: the living Income / Fair Price method (Nov 2014) (download)