COTTON: Pakistan leads the way towards Better Cotton
WWF Pakistan and IKEA started cooperating in Pakistan in 2005 to influence mainstream farmers to implement more sustainable cotton growing practices. Over the years, the cooperation has developed to further meet market demands and support the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and its criteria for Better Cotton. By the end of 2015, IKEA wants all its cotton products to be made from Better Cotton. This is why IKEA and the IKEA Foundation also involve UNICEF, Save the Children and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to help promote “decent work” – an important aspect of Better Cotton – in the project areas in Pakistan.
In 2010, Pakistan became the first country in the world to harvest Better Cotton confirmed by the BCI. It came from the 160,000 hectares covered by a programme funded by the Better Cotton Fast Track Fund (BCFTF), made possible by partners such as IKEA and Levis Strauss & Co. This certified Better Cotton was processed by local spinners and ginners, and used by international buyers such as IKEA.
Today, cotton projects run by WWF Pakistan cover around 500 villages in two regions, and some 50,000 farmers cultivate more sustainable cotton across around 200,000 hectares. The BCI and IKEA have established a comprehensive system to trace this cotton, and the BCI has organised third party credibility checks to get an unbiased opinion of which farmers qualify to produce Better Cotton. This last season, more than 94 percent of farmers qualified. A total of 150,000 bales of Better Cotton were produced and more than 110,000 bales were procured by local suppliers of international brands.
By introducing better farming practices, the project farmers during 2011 have on average reduced their use of synthetic pesticides by 53 percent and their use of chemical fertilisers by 40 percent, when compared to farmers using conventional practices. The water needed for irrigation has decreased 37 percent. And at the same time, farmers have been able to maintain their yields and incomes.
To read more about Better Cotton and the BCI, click here