Can the Better Cotton Initiative transform the global textile industry?

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Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund. The BCI is a long-term multistakeholder initiative that develops and promotes good farm practices, allowing more cotton to be grown while reducing water and chemical use and protecting both working conditions and biodiversity. Finally, we strengthened the procedure for managing Corrective Action Plans, a disciplinary and remediation process which is implemented when a Member is found to be making unapproved claims. The iPad's proof of concept was all done in its labs, Apple was in control of its supply chain, the product was exciting and captured consumers' imagination, and it has the power of Apple's finances and brand prowess behind it.

The Better Cotton Initiative, which is backed by companies such as Levi Strauss, Marks & Spencer, IKEA, H&M and Adidas, believes it can transform the textile market and make it more sustainable.
The Better Cotton Initiative, which is backed by companies such as Levi Strauss, Marks & Spencer, IKEA, H&M and Adidas, believes it can transform the textile market and make it more sustainable.
Better Cotton Initiative. For a better global cotton production, PUMA is aiming to use 50% cotton certified by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in our products until This way, we support the initiative in achieving the goal to make the global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) aims to transform cotton production worldwide by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity We've detected that JavaScript is .
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) aims to transform cotton production worldwide by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity. Mission BCI exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better .
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Better Cotton Initiative ICS is North America's first approved certifier for the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a not-for-profit organization stewarding the global standards for Better Cotton, and bringing together cotton’s complex supply chain, from the farmers to the retailers.

The report provides details about projects across eight countries. If you do not wish to be contacted, please check the box below. Please do not contact me. To achieve this growth, and to enable BCI to continue to address the most pressing issues in cotton farming and the communities it supports, the Better Cotton GIF is delighted to issue an open invitation to new public and private investors to step in and help improve the lives and the environment for millions of cotton farmers around the world.

The rapid expansion of BCI has been remarkable. Now, the Better Cotton GIF has a clear opportunity to bring the project to scale and transform the cotton industry as we know it. While the retailers are putting in some seed corn funding, matched by the Dutch government, it is not nearly enough to support a major scale-up.

BCI's corporate backers do not have a direct and immediate economic benefit from the scheme. So while in general terms, they want to secure production of cotton and prevent farmers from switching to other crops, they are unlikely to pay considerable amounts of money into a scheme that may well benefit competitors at their expense. One way around this is to sign up new members to the consortium but this is also facing difficulties. The Gap retail empire was a founder member but pulled out in the early stages and attempts to bring it back on board have failed.

There are also issues with the supply chain. It takes a while for them to understand how everyone can benefit from the initiative. BCI, though, can show some success. Lise Melvin, executive director, says the second harvest in India and Pakistan has yielded , tonnes of cotton, which compares to Fairtrade which at its peak secured around 35, tonnes and the organic label which yielded , tonnes.

But the figures must be set against the annual global production of more than 25 million tonnes. It involves corporates seeking to create demand down its supply chain. But success or failure of these programmes and initiatives is often down to convincing governments and institutions in the developing world to recognise the benefits and adopt them.

That is perhaps where a bunch of global brands working together could have their biggest impact. This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. In the cotton season, Better Cotton was grown in 21 countries by 1. We are truly a joint effort — encompassing organisations all the way from farms to fashion and textile brands, and civil society organisations — driving the cotton sector towards sustainability.

But of everything we have achieved, we are delighted that in , we completed the first comprehensive review of the Better Cotton Standard System, paving the way to further support BCI Farmers across the world in raising productivity in a sustainable way.

The revised Principles and Criteria of the Standard, approved by the BCI Council in November, , were the culmination of a thorough and rigorous process, involving more than two years of stakeholder consultation. The result is an enhanced standard system that reflects the reality of social, economic and environmental challenges and best practices in cotton production today.

Now begins a month transition period as we prepare for the full roll-out of the revised Principles and Criteria. This achievement owes a large part of its success to a hallmark of BCI: Collaboration and partnerships have been integral to BCI from the outset, and in reached new highs.

We have a strong strategic partner in the Sustainable Trade Initiative IDH , 59 Strategic and Implementing Partners and nearly 1, member organisations, creating a robust global network to grow the production and uptake of Better Cotton.

We also work closely with the organisations behind our three recognised equivalent standards: It is through the combined efforts of all our partners that BCI Farmers are able to continuously improve their practices. As we move closer to mainstreaming Better Cotton, we are developing our strategy beyond These are exciting times and I look forward to sharing our plans in the years to come.

As demand for sustainable cotton continues to rise, the Better Cotton Initiative BCI has made significant progress in making Better Cotton a mainstream commodity, with 1. In every country where we work, we help BCI Farmers to improve their livelihoods, while addressing the particular climatic, environmental and social challenges they face. Conducting training for millions of BCI Farmers worldwide is a major undertaking and relies on the support of trusted, like-minded partners on the ground in each country where Better Cotton is grown.

We call these partners our Implementing Partners IPs , and we take an inclusive approach to the types of organisation with whom we partner.

They can be NGOs, co-operatives or companies within the cotton supply chain, and are responsible for helping BCI Farmers acquire the social and environmental knowledge they need to cultivate Better Cotton, and encourage uptake of Better Cotton in the cotton supply chain. Their leader, the PU Manager, helps multiple, smaller groups, known as Learning Groups, to master best practice techniques, in line with the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria, our global definition of Better Cotton.

Each Learning Group, in turn, is supported by a Lead Farmer, who organises training sessions for his or her members, creates regular opportunities to discuss progress and challenges, and encourages best practice in recording their results.

Our more than 4, Field Facilitators, employed by our IPs, form the backbone of the implementation system across the world. Often with backgrounds in agronomy, Field Facilitators deliver on-the-ground training frequently through practical demonstrations in the field and raise awareness of social issues.

This robust, proven approach to training is progressively helping BCI Farmers to raise productivity and improve their profits, in a way that is better for people and better for the environment. Here, we explore three very different stories of inspiring people at all levels of the BCI training world. We hear the story of a pioneering female Field Facilitator in Pakistan, who has overcome cultural barriers to become a role model for girls and women in her community.

And with eight children, the family depends on his ability to achieve a plentiful, healthy crop. BCI Farmers grow rain-fed cotton, largely by hand, with many growing their crops on plots inherited from their families.

Widespread poverty and a lack of transport and trading infrastructure can present further barriers to addressing these issues, preventing farmers from accessing the tools, finance, inputs and equipment they need. Our four IPs in Mozambique support BCI Farmers in adopting sustainable, affordable techniques to help raise productivity and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

From a social perspective, they raise awareness of the importance of Decent Work a universal concept of fair, ethical work, defined by the International Labour Organization , focusing on important issues such as helping women in cotton-farming communities gain equal work and decision-making opportunities.

Since participating in the BCI programme, Manuel has taken significant steps to boost productivity on his farm, focusing on more efficient approaches to managing pests, maximising his use of rainwater, and improving soil health and fibre quality. In this role, he has assisted in training sessions for BCI Farmers from within his community, lending his own plot for best practice demonstrations, and communicates regularly with them to share knowledge and listen to their concerns.

Managing the risks posed by pests such as bollworm and jassids which attack the bolls and foliage respectively , presents an ongoing challenge for Manuel and his fellow BCI Farmers. Taking a more precise approach to pesticide application can help to keep pests under control while reducing costs and environmental impact. Instead of spraying every two weeks, Manuel has learnt to check whether the number of pests has surpassed a certain threshold before spraying.

He also grows his plants more closely together, moving away from traditional practices, which allows him to apply pesticides more efficiently and cultivate more plants on the same land area, making better use of his plot.

As the climate changes and pests migrate to new locations, farmers must also remain vigilant to evolving pest threats. For example, the mealybug pest a sap-sucking insect ravaged many crops in , for example, spreading quickly due to the warm, dry conditions. Where possible, Manuel uses natural substances such as neem leaves to make botanical pesticides, resulting in further savings, as well as perished weeds from his farm to create a nourishing cover for the top soil.

This has the double benefit of providing nutrients to the soil while helping to maximise moisture retention by reducing evaporation and ensuring more water is directed to the roots, essential in times of drought and irregular rainfall. Improving soil health is vital, with soil degradation a major issue for BCI Farmers in Mozambique and the majority of African countries.

He further improves soil health by rotating his crops with maize, cassava and beans, giving the soil a chance to regenerate. With shifting rainfall patterns continuing to pose a serious concern for cotton farmers in Mozambique, maximising use of rainwater is vital.

When delayed rainfall obliges farmers to sow seeds a month or two later than usual in December or January , this can create a less favourable timeframe for growing, with the days becoming shorter towards the summer months, depriving the crops of sufficient sunlight, just as they are entering the growth phase. Protecting fibre quality is another key priority.

Manuel has learnt to begin picking when half of his plants are displaying their bolls of cotton, lowering the possibility of contamination from road dust. He immediately separates the harvested crop in two groups, graded A and B, before drying the cotton in sheltered, purpose-built driers, made from locally sourced tree branches and covered with grasses, further protecting the crop from dirt and dust. Finally, he maintains the quality of the cotton en route to market by storing it in cloth bags rather than plastic.

All these techniques combine to allow him to conserve as much of his crop as possible. By participating in BCI, Manuel has gained respect and standing in the community, and used his increased profits to benefit his family. He has been able to send his children to school and bought school books to assist their learning, and strengthened the construction of his house, replacing the wooden branches with bricks and the grass roof with water-proof zinc plates.

He has also bought a motorbike, which allows him to reach customers more easily to sell his food crops, find inputs for these crops or buy groceries for the family. In the future, Manuel plans to continue improving productivity on his farm, and may even expand his farm to cultivate more Better Cotton.

He will also continue investing his profits in activities to support his family, including by purchasing goats to sell milk, cheese and meat in his community.

In Pakistan, approximately 1. Female cotton farmers can set a powerful example in their communities, inspiring more women to take on greater responsibilities in their family businesses and inspiring girls to pursue leadership opportunities in their communities. In rural Pakistan, this means overcoming entrenched attitudes towards the roles of men and women in the home and in the field.

In particular, women often have little opportunity to influence farming practices or business decisions, and female cotton workers are often restricted to low paid, manual tasks, with less job security than men. Our six IPs in Pakistan are helping to empower women to take on greater responsibility in the fields, and even to become independent farmers.

Together, our IPs in Pakistan currently reach more than , female cotton workers and female farmers in the Punjab and Sindh provinces. Workers are defined as people who work on cotton farms but do not own the farm and are not the main decision makers.

In this way, they help women to overcome cultural, financial and practical challenges, and learn how to farm cotton more sustainably. Instead of deferring the management to a third party male farmer, as is often the custom in Pakistan, Almas was determined to run the farm herself, cultivate healthy crops and produce the best possible yields to sustain her family.

As her interest and competence grew, Almas discovered that she wanted to do more than boost her own yields. She wanted to spread the word, and enable other farmers — both men and women — to benefit from the techniques she was learning. She experienced opposition from community members, who did not agree with a young woman working on her own and providing training to male farmers.

The farmers too, were wary of Almas and questioned her right to train them. But Almas stood strong. Anger turned into appreciation. In particular, she trains men and women in the same location, which is unique in her region.

In her field demonstration plots, Almas takes a hands-on approach to teaching. She helps BCI Farmers to minimise the use of conventional pesticides by taking a more precise, scientific approach to pesticide application, and making their own biological pesticides from the leaves of neem trees and herbs.

She encourages them to identify and count particular types of pests before applying pesticides, and maximise the positive effect of beneficial insects insects that naturally prey on certain insects that damage crops. BCI Farmers in her Learning Groups learn to conduct soil tests to identify which fertiliser to apply when, and in what quantities, and often use local compost and manure for organic fertiliser.

Almas encourages BCI Farmers to adopt more efficient irrigation techniques such as laser-levelling the precision-levelling of fields, in order to distribute water more efficiently and irrigating alternate furrows. Importantly, Almas also wants to make a difference in her community, acting as a role model for female farmers and encouraging more girls and women into cotton farming. Beyond her community, Almas continues to reach more people with her empowering messages, including through BCI Regional Members Meetings, where farmers and other cotton stakeholders gather to share their experiences.

Generations of smallholder farmers have farmed cotton here for centuries amid widespread poverty, selling their yields to support their families. Increasingly, BCI is collaborating with diverse local partners — including cotton co-operatives, ginners, NGOs, social enterprises and local authorities — to raise awareness of the benefits of growing Better Cotton and to encourage more cotton farmers to participate in the BCI programme. In particular, the co-op seeks to attract more local cotton farmers to participate in BCI, and encourage more ginners to source more Better Cotton ginning separates cotton fibre from the raw cotton bolls.

The Zhong Wang family has also been running its own ginning factory, Zhong Wang Textile Company, for three generations. The Zhong Wang Cotton Co-operative has nearly doubled its membership in two years, and with each of its BCI Farmer members representing a family of four or five people, the benefits of membership have a multiplier effect. Through the co-op, BCI Farmers have access to resources such as drip irrigation equipment and information on obtaining funding and government subsidies.

The co-op purchases high quality pesticides, fertilisers and seeds on their behalf, helping them to benefit from bulk discounts. It supports capacity-building at many levels: With water scarcity becoming an increasing challenge in Yuli County — due to low rainfall, declining ground water levels and stricter government controls on ground water use — Zhang Biao is advising the BCI Farmers in his PU to optimise water use.

Using efficient drip irrigation techniques, BCI Farmers are delivering water to the roots more quickly and reducing evaporation, compared to flood irrigation. To improve pest control and reduce pesticide costs, Zhang Biao encourages BCI Farmers to grow crops such as corn and sesame around the fields, in order to attract more beneficial insects onto their farm, which also helps to promote biodiversity.

With the additional income, many of the BCI Farmers buy farming tools and agricultural equipment, and help further raise their yields and increase their profits. To help them further boost their yields, Zhang Biao is keen to explore how his members could share machinery, so that they can implement mechanised farming techniques and make further productivity gains.

Importantly, Zhang Biao is seeing increased interest in Better Cotton among ginners, as demand for more sustainable cotton grows further up the supply chain, and wants to continue helping to accelerate the uptake of Better Cotton. Young farmers in particular are taking advantage of the opportunity to learn more precise, scientific farming approaches through BCI. Looking ahead To further support cotton farmers around the world, we regularly explore ways to develop and enhance the Better Cotton Standard System — ensuring that it remains a relevant and effective framework for cotton producers around the globe.

As we come closer to taking Better Cotton mainstream, reaching our goal, we are looking further ahead to define our strategy towards and beyond. We will continue to partner with like-minded organisations and focus on how the cultivation of Better Cotton can contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The BCI Global Harvest Report provides an overview of our engagement around the world and includes global and country-level figures demonstrating our reach.

In the cotton season , Better Cotton was grown in 21 countries by 1. Through our partners, BCI trained an additional , cotton farmers in two additional countries. These farmers are well on their journey to becoming licensed BCI Farmers. The international cotton season runs from August to July, and therefore, spans a calendar year. The BCI Annual Report primarily focuses on the season and includes final reach figures for this season.

Under the Assurance Programme in , licenses were denied or cancelled for a number of reasons, including non-compliance with Minimum Requirements on pesticide application and producers not submitting accurate farm-level results data.

The most notable reductions in licenses came from India and Mali. Consequently, the total number of licensed BCI Farmers decreased compared to the previous year; however, the vast majority of these farmers have continued participating in the BCI Programme, receiving training and support.

The Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund is a global programme designed to support the Better Cotton Initiative in its goals of reaching five million farmers in key cotton-producing countries and have Better Cotton account for 30% of global cotton production. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a non-profit that promotes better standards in cotton farming and practices across 21 countries. As of , Better Cotton accounts for 14% of global cotton production. Better Cotton Initiative Read More 中文 (简体) 中文 (繁體) čeština dansk Vlaams English suomi Français Français (CA) Deutsch ελληνικά magyar Italiano 日本語 한국어 Norsk język polski Português Português (BR) Русский slovenčina Español svenska Türkçe.