Better Cotton Initiative – An Eyewash?

CC0 Image by Hans/ Pixabay

BCI is a not-for-profit organisation committed to promote Better Cotton, the standards of which it has drafted. The Better Cotton Initiative works with member organisations in Africa, Asia, Australia, Brazil, etc. It was conceptualised in 2005 and came into existence as an independent organisation in 2009. By 2020, it aims Better Cotton to account for 30% of world cotton production.

 The Concept

BCI has set out criteria for Better Cotton that underline the importance given to environment, producers and the sector. The six practices that define Better Cotton are:

  1. Integrated Pest Management to minimise the harmful impact of pesticides on environment and humans
  2. Efficient water management
  3. Soil management
  4. Conservation of natural habitat on and around the farm
  5. Practices followed to maximise the quality of the fibre
  6. Promotion of Decent Work (differentiating child labour from child work, freedom to form labour/producer associations, etc)

 The Features

  • The Better Cotton Initiative not only aims to work on increasing the production of cotton through better practices, but also aims to minimise the harmful impact on environment in cotton production while still improving the quality.
  • It takes a holistic approach of conserving water, maintaining soil health, health and safety of the workers/producers, discouraging child labour, encouraging smallholders association and improving the quality of fibre

A video explaining Better Cotton Initiative

 

Is it Practical or an Eyewash?

Although the concept seems very great and holistic, I doubt if it is implementable. Of course, with the network of resource organisations and grassroots implementation agencies, we may be able to try on a positive note. But we need to learn from the experience of previous programs where we spent millions of dollars for no particular outcomes. Unless the farmers are paid bigger slice of the pie, they are not going to bother about all the pretty words used in such programs (at least the farmers in developing world). They just need practical solutions that help them fetch a better price for their produce and improve their standard of living. In all such programs, as per my view, only the big corporate companies are favored that eventually market or export the produces. If this is going to continue in BCI as well, then it will do no good to either the environment or the farmers.

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