by Dheeraj Tagra
11-June-2019 | 5 mins read
The annual report of Better Cotton Initiative is out!
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on the betterment of cotton-producing farmers and overall cotton farming is out with its latest annual report (2018), which distinctly highlights that the global production of Better Cotton has increased by 50 per cent in 2016-17 cotton season.
There are a total of 2 million licenced BCI farmers across the globe, who produce 5.1 million metric tonnes of Better Cotton, accounting for 19 per cent of global cotton production. Gender equality, children’s right, water stewardship and responsible land use, innovative technology, knowledge sharing … were the focus for BCI during 2017-18. In 2018, 234 new members joined BCI and by the end of the year, BCI had more than 1,400 members across its five membership categories. Some of the new members included Guess, El Corte Ingles, JP Boden (UK), Scotch and Soda (Netherlands) and Target Australia. Overall, retail and brand members represent approximately 300 individual brands worldwide.
5 Targets and deadline is 2020
1. To ensure Better Cotton and its equivalents to represent 30 per cent of global cotton production (approximately 8.2 million tonnes).
Today, less than 20 per cent of cotton is grown in a way that actively protects people and the environment.
2. To support 5 million cotton farmers to improve their livelihoods by adopting sustainable agricultural practices.
To do this, BCI focuses on the diverse social, environmental and economic challenges faced by cotton farmers around the world.
3. To aim for 10 per cent of global cotton production to be sourced as Better Cotton
Better Cotton uptake now accounts for 4 per cent of global cotton consumption. In 2018, 93 BCI retailers and brand members sourced 1,064,421 metric tonnes of Better Cotton – a record for BCI. That’s a 45 per cent increase on 2017 (7,36,000 tonnes).
4. countries to take responsibility for funding and implementing the Better Cotton Standard.
It will support national governments and farmers’ organisations in understanding how they can formally manage and fund national BCI-training programmes, potentially even becoming Implementing Partners.
5. To ensure all core operational costs be covered with earned income: 100 per cent of donor funds go to projects at farm-level or to innovation.
Today, 82 per cent of BCI funding came from the private sector. In 2018, its total income was € 17.41 million while expenses were € 17.347 million. In 2018, BCI directed €11.6 million to farmer support and training, the majority of which was allocated to its Implementing Partners to support their field-level efforts.
BCI’s importance for India
There are 5,75,725 BCI farmers (28.8 per cent of BCI’s total farmers) in India which is second highest after CmiA countries (46.8 per cent). Better Cotton production rose by 75 per cent from 3,25,000 tonnes in the 2016-17 cotton season to 5,72,000 tonnes (11.1 per cent of global production) in the 2017-2108 cotton season.
Apart from providing training to farmers regarding more sustainable farming practices, BCI and its associates/partners run awareness campaigns within the villages regarding child labour in cotton farming. Through such training, farmers are able to reduce the use of pesticides and increase their profits.
As per the BCI website, it has total of 368 members in India, including the likes of giants Shahi Exports, Arvind Ltd., Eastman Exports Global Clothing, Pratibha Syntex, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd, Aarvee Denims and Exports, Anugraha Fashion Mill, Armstrong Spinning Mill, etc.
Global children’s rights organisation Terre des hommes Foundation (Tdh) partnered with BCI to help BCI farmers address and prevent child labour and promote Decent Work in cotton farming. Now there is a plan to launch a pilot project in India to support BCI’s Implementing Partners in delivering child protection training to BCI farmers, in line with BCI’s Decent Work Principle.
“The exponential increase in Better Cotton production in India shows great progress. In the 2017-18 cotton season, India was the largest cotton producing country worldwide, with almost 9 million smallholder cotton farmers.” Rajeev Baruah, Head of Smallholder Programmes, BCI
“Being a member of BCI demonstrates to consumers and shareholders that an organisation is committed to sourcing sustainable raw materials and supporting sustainable cotton. At Levi Strauss & Co., cotton accounts for 93 per cent of all the raw materials we use for products, so it is a critical commodity for us. BCI has been crucial to both helping us reduce our impact on the environment and bringing that story to our key stakeholders.” Michael Kobori, VP, Sustainability, Levi Strauss & Co.
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