COTTON: Great results from cotton projects in India’s Maharashtra
Improvements have been rapid since the IKEA supported WWF cotton projects in the Aurangabad and Jalna districts in the Indian state of Maharashtra started in 2009. Last year, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) licenced almost 16,000 metric tonnes of raw cotton from the project areas as compliant with Better Cotton criteria.
“Ginners’ uptake ratio at 99 percent shows the efficiency and the involvement of the supply chain in the project, proving that there is in fact no ‘leakage’ in the flow of Better Cotton from farmers to ginners,” says Guido Verijke, IKEA business leader Bed & Bath Textiles as well as member of the BCI Council.
In 2011, the project involved almost 5,200 farmers in the two districts. Since farmers started using better farming practices, they have significantly reduced their use of chemicals and water compared to farmers growing cotton with conventional methods; they used 14 percent less water, 69 percent less pesticides and 22 percent less chemical fertilisers. Overall, there is annual potential to save 1.27 million cubic metres of water in the project area.
“We are now equipped with technical knowledge and have drastically reduced the use of chemicals and irrigation. This has helped us get more output with less input,” says farmer Vasant Madhavrao Shinde, in the village of Pirkalyan in the Jalna district.
WWF and IKEA started cooperating in 2005 to influence mainstream farmers in India and Pakistan to implement more sustainable cotton growing practices that reduce the need for chemicals and irrigation. Over the years, the cooperation has evolved to 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.