APPROXIMATELY 200,000 cotton farmers in Pakistan will receive vital environmental training to improve production practices this year, thanks to a new partnership between the Australian Government, Cotton Australia and the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a global organisation working towards making Better Cotton a sustainable mainstream commodity.
A new aid initiative, the Australian Government’s Business Partnerships Platform, has granted $500,000 to BCI with these funds matched by global brands and then invested in training for Pakistan’s cotton farmers.
Once trained and a licence issued, these farmers can sell their fibre as Better Cotton into the world market, with demand for BCI cotton growing every year thanks to the commitments of its brand members.
Australia’s cotton growers apply world-leading best practices, skills and experience to their farms in Australia, and Cotton Australia will share this information with fellow cotton producers in Pakistan in a bid to improve the overall standards of global cotton production and increase the world’s sustainable cotton supply.
The training will be conducted by BCI’s Pakistan partners in the regions of Punjab and Sindh in the 2017 cotton season.
BCI accelerates the adoption of better crop production practices to achieve measurable positive change around issues like pesticides, water and child labour, while improving the social and economic benefits for cotton farmers.
This is the first time a government outside Europe has contributed to BCI, and is a great example of a global partnership to help meet a complex challenge, with benefits for all involved.
Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay (pictured below) says the organisation is proud to have brokered this partnership for BCI.
“We feel grateful to the Australian Government for their support and leadership. We see Pakistan’s cotton farmers not as competitors, but as part of a global cotton industry that we all belong to.”
We must work together to meet the global sustainability challenges for cotton, and we can help by sharing our knowledge and expertise through BCI with our fellow farmers,” Mr Kay says.
Better Cotton Initiative CEO, Alan McClay, says BCI is thankful for Cotton Australia’s commitment and support in securing this grant from the Australian Government.
“BCI works to catalyse positive change throughout the cotton sector and to promote healthy production for future generations. A shared value approach by public and private partners, bringing together business, civil society and governmental bodies, is what underpins successful, durable and positive change in the sector,” Mr McClay says.
- BCI’s target is for 5 million farmers to be producing Better Cotton by 2020, equivalent to 30% of the world’s cotton production.
- 2015 marked 11.9 per cent of the world’s cotton production as Better Cotton.
- BCI aims to reach and train five million cotton farmers world-wide into the program by 2020, with 600,000 of these farmers from Pakistan.
- Australia’s cotton farmers lead the world in sustainable cotton production, reducing pesticide use by 95 per cent in the last decade and improving water efficiency by 42 per cent over the same period.
- Cotton Australia is a member of BCI, with Australian farmers leading the world in sustainable cotton production.
- In 2015-16 season, Better Cotton lint represented 10.4 per cent of Australian cotton production, with this growing each year as more growers join the program.
- More than 25 million tonnes of cotton are produced every year in over 80 countries, supporting approximately 250 million people’s livelihoods in the production stages alone.