Conducting training for millions of BCI Farmers worldwide is a major undertaking and relies on the support of trusted, like-minded partners on the ground in each country where Better Cotton is grown. Similarly, by committing to sourcing Better Cotton though a system of Mass Balance, BCI Retailer and Brand Members can be assured that they are supporting the flow of more sustainable cotton into the supply chain.
This may lead to accusations that the apparel companies are trying to have their cake and eat it, by proving their sustainability credentials while keeping farmers in poverty. But such accusations won't be fair. By not paying extra to the farmers, there is a much higher chance of the initiative reaching scale because it will not be hemmed in by being seen as a niche premium product. But how do the farmers benefit? Cotton growing also demands huge amounts of water and the BCI model has seen significant reductions in irrigation needs.
They also lack knowledge of the hazards around them. There are still instances in Africa where farmers are doing tongue testing to assess the right concentration of pesticides. The initiative helps them to understand their crops and pests and give them the ability to do more with less.
This has reduced pesticide use in developing countries. So if it's such a great idea, will it catch-on in the same way the iPad transformed the market for computers?
Unfortunately, the answer is likely to be no. The analogy with Apple is unfair in many regards, but it serves to prove a point. The iPad's proof of concept was all done in its labs, Apple was in control of its supply chain, the product was exciting and captured consumers' imagination, and it has the power of Apple's finances and brand prowess behind it. Plus, of course, Apple sees it as the next evolution of its market dominance and therefore central to its strategy. The BCI has none of these advantages.
It is having to show proof of concept in the field, which takes time, and it has little control over the supply chain, given the global nature of the commodity. So far it has engaged , farmers in four countries, which is a fair start, but itwill struggle to meet the demands of the retailers who have already signed up.
Lack of funding for expansion also poses a problem. While the retailers are putting in some seed corn funding, matched by the Dutch government, it is not nearly enough to support a major scale-up. BCI's corporate backers do not have a direct and immediate economic benefit from the scheme. So while in general terms, they want to secure production of cotton and prevent farmers from switching to other crops, they are unlikely to pay considerable amounts of money into a scheme that may well benefit competitors at their expense.
We use our industry-wide agriculture related audit experience to check relevant data and qualitative claims against BCI criteria. Cotton growers or grower groups can apply to BCI. All growers must complete the necessary steps with BCI directly prior to requesting a verification visit.
BCI has the specific aims of reducing the environmental impact of cotton production, improving the livelihoods and economic development in cotton producing areas, and increasing commitment to Better Cotton through the supply chain.
For growers, the goals of Better Cotton are articulated through the 6 production principles that specify requirements for:. SCS Global Services promotes environmental stewardship and social responsibility by providing trusted third-party certification and auditing, and driving the development of science-based leadership standards in support of sustainable development.
BCI will email you a set of questions about your farm management relating to labor, soil, habitat, worker safety and water. Request a Verification Visit: Once you have completed the necessary steps, BCI will instruct you on contacting a verifier. After contacting SCS directly, we will work with you to determine the details of the verification visit e. Prepare for a Verification Visit:
The Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund is a global programme designed to support the Better Cotton Initiative in its goals of reaching five million farmers in key cotton-producing countries and have Better Cotton account for 30% of global cotton production. The Better Cotton Initiative exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future. BCI aims to transform cotton production worldwide by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a non-profit that promotes better standards in cotton farming and practices across 21 countries. As of , Better Cotton accounts for 14% of global cotton production.