Better Cotton has released a new study on the impact of its program in India that explores how cotton farmers who implemented Better Cotton-recommended agricultural practices achieved healthier profits, reduced synthetic input use and improved sustainability.
Conducted by Wageningen University and Research between 2019 and 2022, the study, “Towards More Sustainable Cotton farming in India,” examined farmers in the Indian regions of Maharashtra (Nagpur) and Telangana (Adilabad) and compared the results with farmers in the same areas who did not follow Better Cotton guidance. Better Cotton works with program partners at the farm level to enable farmers to adopt more sustainable practices, such as better managing pesticides and fertilizers.
The study found that Better Cotton farmers were able to reduce costs, improve overall profitability and safeguard the environment more effectively, compared with non-Better Cotton farmers.
Better Cotton farmers decreased their costs for synthetic insecticide by almost 75 percent, a notable decrease compared to non-Better Cotton farmers. On average, Better Cotton farmers in the regions saved $44 per farmer during the season on synthetic insecticides and herbicides expenses during the season, significantly reducing their costs and their environmental impact.
Better Cotton farmers in Nagpur received around 13.5 cents per kilogram more for their cotton than non-Better Cotton farmers, the equivalent of a 13 percent price increase. Overall, Better Cotton contributed to an increase in farmers’ seasonal profitability of $82 per acre, equivalent to about $500 income for an average cotton farmer in Nagpur, according to the study.
For the baseline, the researchers surveyed 1,360 farmers. The majority of farmers involved were middle-aged, literate smallholders who use most of their land for agriculture, with around 80 percent used for cotton farming.
“Better Cotton strives to ensure that cotton production is more sustainable,” Better Cotton CEO Alan McClay said. “It’s important that farmers see improvements to their livelihoods, which will incentivize more farmers to adopt climate resilient agricultural practices. Studies like these show us that sustainability pays off, not just for reducing environmental impact, but also in overall profitability for farmers. We can take the learnings from this study and apply it in other cotton-growing regions.”
Wageningen University in the Netherlands is a globally important center for life sciences and agricultural research. Through this impact report, Better Cotton seeks to analyze the effectiveness of its programs. The survey demonstrates the added value for profitability and environmental protections in the development of a more sustainable cotton sector, Better Cotton said.
Better Cotton is considered the world’s largest cotton sustainability program. Its mission is to help cotton communities survive and thrive, while protecting and restoring the environment.
Through its network of field-level partners, Better Cotton has trained more than 2.5 million farmers in 25 countries in more sustainable farming practices. Nearly a quarter of the world’s cotton is now grown under the Better Cotton Standard.