BCI Farmers gathered for a training session.As the study was conducted in the first three years of the BCI project being implemented, the impact seen on the ground was limited in some areas. Together, we are working towards a more sustainable future for the cotton sector.We will come close to meeting this target, but we are unlikely to meet it. Fred Perry became a member of BCI in 2019. In this way, they will contribute directly to establishing Better Cotton as a mainstream commodity, while BCI will be able to focus its efforts on supporting other actors and fostering continuous improvement of the standard system.2019 was a year of significant advances on the ground and in the marketplace, amid continued climate disruption and geopolitical instability. ELGO-DEMETER and the Inter-professional Cotton Organization (ICO) have proposed to work in partnership to steward, promote and implement the AGRO-2 standard in cotton farming in Greece and are seeking equivalence with the Better Cotton Standard System to allow Greek cotton farmers to sell their AGRO-2 compliant cotton as Better Cotton.A requirement under the USAID DIV grant was a Pesticide Evaluation Report and Safer User Action Plan. The income from the fee is donated by Retailers and Brands through BCI to the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund, which makes strategic investments in Better Cotton projects (find out more about the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund below).What Do We Mean by Sourcing Better CottonBCI is at the beginning of its journey towards supporting transformative action to progress gender equality. Our 76 Strategic Partners and Implementing Partners worked with hundreds of Producer Unit Managers, thousands of Field Facilitators and tens of thousands of Lead Farmers in 23 countries to deliver training and support to millions of cotton farmers.National embedding is a journey, and while there is still a long way to go, we are pleased to see the progress made over the past few years. This was up from 19% in 2017-18 and 14% in 2016-17. We also offered introductory fee reductions to further increase user registrations. Together with our on-the-ground partners, BCI is reaching a broad range of people, not just ‘the farmer’. At field level, the grant supported the development and revision of the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria, specifically in the areas of water stewardship, land use, biodiversity and gender. The Fund also mobilised an additional €3.4 million in co-funding from Implementing Partners and supply chain partners (social enterprises, ginners, spinning mills and garment manufacturers).BCI, together with its partners and stakeholders, will continue to take the lead in defining how national embedding could evolve in each country, based on country-specific contexts.Better Cotton Standard Countries vs. Source of ICAC World Production Figures: https://icac.gen10.net/statistics/index14.18Cecilia Brannsten, Environmental Sustainability Manager, H&M Group, talks about H&M’s sustainable cotton sourcing ambitions and their commitment to Better Cotton.In 2019, BCI developed a National Embedding Framework in order to consider national embedding more holistically and create a flexible tool to support BCI country teams, and our partners and assess the extent to which the Better Cotton Standard System is becoming embedded in each BCI Programme country.BCI engages the entire cotton sector and beyond, from ginners and spinners to civil society organisations and major global retailers and brands, to establish more sustainable cotton as the norm. The Consultative Council is a multi-stakeholder forum in Uzbekistan including the Uzbekistan Government, relevant line ministries and local authorities.In 2019, we celebrated the Better Cotton Initiative’s (BCI’s) 10-year anniversary. Increasing pest increases usage of pesticide usage and hence increases cost of cultivation. There was a lack of affirmative measures to show positive changes in gender equity challenges such as occupational segregation, unequal access to land and property, wage discrimination, reproductive health risks, and a lack of voice within household structures.To make cotton production better for all the people who produce it, BCI will work to improve gender equality throughout our operations. Begun in 2015, funded by the Ford Foundation and commissioned by the ISEAL Alliance, the research monitored participating BCI Farmers’ progress. Throughout their Better Cotton journey, we require farmers to focus on continuously improving their practices in line with the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria.Opportunities to Advance National EmbeddingPakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare OrganisationFor example, in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh in Pakistan, in addition to delivering training to licensed BCI Farmers, BCI’s Implementing Partners delivered training to more than 250,000 (male and female) farm workers in the 2018-19 cotton season. This is then registered on BCI’s supply chain system, and credits – Better Cotton Claim Units – for the order are passed through the supply chain for that same weight in cotton, from one factory to the next. We may not hit this target, but with the additional focus on Greece, Mali, South Africa and Egypt, where we hope to have further developed national embedding strategies by the end of 2020, we have confidence in coming close.As our members continue to set ever more ambitious sourcing targets, we will further invest in reaching and training more cotton farmers in order to meet the growing demand for Better Cotton.In the 2018-19 cotton season, the number of farmers participating in the BCI Programme grew substantially.
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