The Better Cotton Fast Track program (BCFT) has been working to speed Better Cotton production with the support of brands like Ikea, H&M, Marks and Spencer and Levis Strauss & Co, and with joint funding from Rabobank Foundation, ICCO, Solidaridad and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The committee recently agreed to spend â‚¬9.6 million ($13.3 million) in 2014 to bring one million tons of Better Cotton to the market in 2015.
BCFT, a project of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), held an investors meeting in Delhi, India and approved fifty Better Cotton projects across India, Pakistan, China, Mozambique and Mali that would allow for increased development of Better Cotton. They also outlined country investment strategies and discussed supply chain activity.
The Better Cotton Initiative is designed to improve the livelihoods of cotton producers and reduce the environmental impacts of production by setting Better Cotton standards requiring farmers to comply with minimum production criteria, keep records of their activities, and to keep track of BCI’s agronomic and economic result indicators.
The Sustainable Trade Initiative’s (IDH) latest Impact Report on cotton highlights the rapid growth in market share sustainably produced cotton has seen in recent years. During the 2008/2009 season, sustainable cotton accounted for just 1 percent of total global cotton production. In 2011/2012, that number reached 3.1%.
According to IDH, third-party studies showed that Better Cotton farmers use 20 percent less water, 67 percent less pesticide and 33 percent less commercial fertilizer. They also use more organic fertilizer and their crop is ultimately more profitable.
The Better Cotton program has expanded globally in recent years and production has flourished. According to BCI’s 2013 annual report released Tuesday, 300,000 farmers in eight countries received training in the Better Cotton program and 810,000 metric tons of Better Cotton were licensed.
BCI plans to be working with 900,000 farmers in seventeen countries this year, and said that producers in twenty other countries have asked the organization to launch Better Cotton in their territories.
Patrick Laine, BCI CEO, said, “While great progress is being made on the supply side of Better Cotton, we now need to tell this story to the brands and retailers of the world, so that demand keeps pace.”
He added, “We are fortunate in having global, visionary brands already committed including H&M, IKEA, M&S, Levi Strauss & Co., adidas, Nike and others. We have launched a new program to recruit many more during the coming year that we look forward to welcoming to the Better Cotton Initiative. We are well on our way toward our objective of reaching 5 million farmers and 30% of global production by 2020. Thank you for your continued support.”