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Better Cotton Now Accounts for 19 Percent of Global Cotton Production

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) revealed in its 2018 Annual Report released on Thursday, that Better Cotton now accounts for 19 percent of global cotton production.

To date, BCI has provided training on sustainable agricultural practices to more than 2 million cotton farmers in 21 countries, which drove the volume of more sustainably produced cotton available on the global market to a new level.

BCI defines Better Cotton as having been produced in line with its Better Cotton Principles and Criteria, which includes things like promoting water stewardship, land responsibility and minimizing the harmful impact of crop protection practices, like the use of pesticides. More than 99 percent of BCI farmers are smallholders, farming on less than 20 hectares of land, according to the organization.

By 2020, BCI’s goal is to support 5 million cotton farmers in adopting more sustainable agricultural practices and improving their livelihoods. To accomplish this, the organization said it will focus on the diverse social, environmental and economic challenges faced by cotton farmers around the world, from drought in Australia to flooding in China and gender equality in Pakistan.

“Our comprehensive program of training, practical demonstrations and knowledge-sharing helps farmers to raise their yields, reduce their impacts on the environment and improve working conditions,” Alan McClay, CEO at BCI, said. “We address multiple environmental issues–from soil health and pesticide use to water stewardship–and raise awareness of the importance of Decent Work, focusing in particular on promoting women’s empowerment and preventing child labor.”

Down the supply chain, BCI’s retailer and brand members, like H&M, Ikea, Gap Inc., Adidas and Nike, passed a key milestone at the end of 2018, sourcing more than 1 million metric tons of Better Cotton to set a BCI record. That represents a 45 percent increase from 2017 and, according to BCI, sends a clear message to the market that Better Cotton is becoming a sustainable mainstream commodity.

Better Cotton uptake now accounts for 4 percent of global cotton consumption, and this moves BCI closer to its 2020 target of having 10 percent of global cotton sourced as Better Cotton.

“This historic level of Better Cotton uptake is an encouraging indicator of how well BCI is progressing toward our five 2020 targets,” McClay added.