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Better Cotton Initiative Cites Growth in Members and Methods

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is growing its ranks and sustainability efforts.

BCI, which works with members across the cotton supply chain to ensure continuous demand and supply of Better Cotton, said this week that in the first half of 2019 it welcomed 200 new members across its membership categories.

New members in the period included 34 retailers and brands from 13 countries, 162 suppliers and manufacturers, two civil society organizations and one field-level producer group.

The retailers and brands that have joined BCI this year include ANTA International (China), Asics Corp. (Japan), Blue Illusion (Australia), Fillippa K (Sweden), Giorgio Armani Operations (Italy), Kiabi (France), Kohl’s Department Stores (U.S.), MAC Mode (Germany), Melco Resorts and Entertainment (China), Mos Mosh (Denmark), O’Neill Europe (Netherlands), SOK Corp. (Finland), Voice Norge (Norway), Walmart (U.S.) and Whistles (U.K.).

BCI’s newest civil society members are the HCV Network, based in the U.K., and Japan’s Global Alliance for Sustainable Supply Chain. HCV Network strives to protect high conservation values in areas where the expansion of forestry and agriculture could put important forests, biodiversity and local communities at risk, while the Global Alliance for Sustainable Supply Chain is a non-governmental organization promoting a sustainable supply chain in Japan.

BCI said its demand-driven funding model means that retailer and brand member sourcing Better Cotton directly translates into increased investment in training for cotton farmers on more sustainable practices. So far this year, Better Cotton uptake by these members has surpassed 1 million metric tons, already exceeding 2018’s uptake.

In the first half, new supplier and manufacturer members, which support the transformation of the cotton sector by joining BCI and sourcing increased volumes of Better Cotton, joined from 25 countries, including Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Italy, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. At the end of the first half, BCI had more than 1,600 members.

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In a separate report, BCI gave an update on implementation of sustainable farming practices by its member farmers.

In the 2017-18 cotton season, BCI and its on-the-ground partners provided training on more sustainable farming practices to more than 2 million cotton farmers in 21 countries. Through training, tools and capacity building, BCI farmers addressed and tackled pertinent issues in cotton production, from water use to pest management to “Decent Work.” By implementing the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria, farmers produce cotton in a way that is measurably better for themselves, the environment and farming communities, the organization said.

Results from the “BCI Farmer” report demonstrated the benefits of implementing more sustainable practices around the world. BCI highlighted some of those efforts from China, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkey.

In the area of social compliance, 74 percent of Turkish BCI farmers had advanced awareness of child labor issues, while in Tajikistan, 25 percent of farmers trained on health and safety practices were women.

In environmental efforts, BCI farmers in India used 10 percent less water than comparison farmers, Pakistani farmers used 17 percent less synthetic fertilizer than comparison farmers, and those in Tajikistan used 40 percent fewer pesticides than comparison farmers.

On an economic level, BCI Farmers in China achieved 14 percent higher yields than comparison farmers, while farmers in Pakistan achieved 40 percent higher profits than comparison farmers.