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Israeli Farmers Join Better Cotton Initiative

Israeli cotton field

Better Cotton is now grown in 21 countries worldwide.

As a result of a new partnership agreement between Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and the Israel Cotton Production and Marketing Board (ICB), 100 percent of Israeli farmers have pledged their participation, and Better Cotton from their first harvest is available now.

“We’re delighted to welcome Israel to the BCI program,” Corin Wood-Jones, BCI’s senior program manager, said in a statement released Tuesday. “This addition represents an important step in our continued efforts to engage globally across a diverse range of farming systems. We look forward to working with the ICB so that other Better Cotton farmers can potentially benefit from their extensive agronomic knowledge and specialized experience in such areas as water management.”

Though a relatively small cotton producer, Israel yields mainly Extra Long Staple, feeding the Better Cotton supply chain with a fiber that BCI said many of its members use to manufacture high-quality textiles.

The nonprofit also pointed to the country’s advanced field-level practices, including: country-wide implementation of integrated pest management (IPM) methodology based on plot specific scouting of pests and beneficial organisms; regular area-wide infestation assessment cultural control method; a pest resistance monitoring routine; and regulated usage of pesticides. Water and nutrition management is also based on direct plant and soil monitoring.

ICB is starting off its engagement with BCI as an implementing partner, providing Israeli producers with capacity building and training on the Better Cotton standard system. Over the course of the next one to two years, ICB intends to develop an Israeli Better Cotton standard, which it will own and benchmark against the BCI one.

“ICB is proud to become a member of the BCI community. We view this membership as a mutual opportunity whereby we envisage both sides benefitting from each other’s strengths in the cotton sector,” Uri Gilad, managing director of ICB, said.

Founded as part of a roundtable initiative led by WWF in 2005, BCI licensed 1.2 million farmers in 20 countries across five regions in its fifth harvest season. With the addition of Israel, BCI now operates in 21 countries globally. The nonprofit is aiming to recruit 5 million farmers by 2020.

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