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Better Cotton Harvest Report 2012 available at the end of the month

At the end of the month, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) will be releasing its annual report with 2012 harvest data, now named the 'Better Cotton Harvest Report' to better reflect the cotton growing and harvesting seasons season rather than the calendar year. It is complete with useful graphics to show sowing and harvesting months in each country where Better Cotton is grown. Other highlights include:

  • an in depth update on each country producing Better Cotton
  • more substantial coverage of BCI's Decent Work principles and the qualitative impact which Better Cotton is having in the field
  • result indicators from China's first Better Cotton harvest an introduction from outgoing CEO Lise Melvin, as she hands over to Patrick Laine

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Partnership releases cotton project report and cotton movie

A report on the partnership’s joint cotton projects in India and Pakistan was released in the beginning of June. It covers developments since the start in 2005, and can be used as a resource to anyone wanting to learn more about the journey to make conventional cotton cultivation more sustainable.

In addition, a 6 ½ minute film, “IKEA and Cotton”, was launched on YouTube in May. It presents the life course of cotton – from seed to final product in the store and the work being done to improve social and environmental impacts in cotton-growing communities through the partnership, as well as through BCI and IKEA Foundation.

Read the report here
Watch the film here

Inspiring stories from the cotton fields in Pakistan

In Pakistan alone, around 40,000 farmers now use more sustainable farming practices thanks to WWF and IKEA. Many of them see life-changing results and have great stories to tell – like Muhammat Ramzan, who now can afford to send his children to school.

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WWF and IKEA prepare for sustainable cotton production beyond projects

Eight years into the cotton partnership, and with some very impressive results to show for it, WWF and IKEA want to support sustainable cotton production beyond the joint projects on the ground in India and Pakistan. The goal is to help transform the global cotton market and make Better Cotton an affordable, mainstream commodity that is better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector´s future.

"When we first started the projects, neither IKEA nor WWF really knew what needed to be done to tackle the challenges with cotton farming. The first phase was experimental, with lots of innovation. We have learned a lot and achieved a lot," says Murli Dhar, Associate Director Sustainable Agriculture Program WWF India.

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Great 2012 results for cotton projects in India and Pakistan

The partnership´s joint cotton projects in India and Pakistan clearly show that not only the environment benefits from more sustainable farming practices – in 2012, project farmers´ earnings in India were around 70 percent higher compared to those using conventional cultivation methods, according to fresh data from WWF.


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"Our yields have improved."

The once lush Godavari river basin in central India now experiences regular droughts due to climate change and decades of poor water management.
But farmers, like Swarupchand Maher, have improved their livelihood despite the difficult circumstances.

"Before it was hard to make enough money from selling our cotton and vegetables. With the new techniques, our yields have improved. We don’t have to spend so much time on weeding and watering and we´re using less pesticide", says Swarupchand Maher.

Income from cotton and vegetables on Swarupchand´s 28 acre farm used to barely support his household of 11 people. But since getting involved in an IKEA and WWF project to promote more sustainable farming practices, his income has improved and his family enjoys a better quality of life.


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IKEA secures 50% cotton from
preferred sources for 2013

The IKEA supply chain has now secured enough cotton produced from preferred sources* to cover half of the predicted total need for IKEA products in the current financial year 2013 (FY13).

"It is exciting that we have crossed the 50% goal and this has been a significant achievement. There is still a way to go to meet our 2015 goal and I am sure with the continued collaboration we will secure this," says Pramit Chanda, IKEA Material Development Leader Textiles.


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"I have greatly benefitted from the path shown by the project."

"I am a farmer under WWF project and I have greatly benefitted from the path shown by the project," says Vasant Madhavrao Shinde living in Pirkalyan village, Jalna district, Maharashtra, India.

Vasant Madhavrao Shinde, whose yield has doubled and costs halved with very basic methods, feels deeply indebted to the project for the techniques he was taught and lessons that he learnt through participation.

"We are illiterate but now we can use modern technology and select what is best for our cotton field," adds the confident farmer.

He has also become aware of the risks associated with traditional practices and is now very cautious and follows all the safety recommendations made under the project.

"I have greatly benefitted from the path shown by the project", says Vasant Madhavrao Shinde´

Better Cotton could be mainstream commodity before 2020

The availability of Better Cotton - cotton produced and licensed according to the social and environmental criteria set by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI - is increasing rapidly, and production could be large enough to make it a mainstream global commodity before 2020.

"Only 2% or 670,000 metric tonnes of the cotton lint produced globally in 2012 were Better Cotton. But a lot of people in the industry now feel we could have a significant ratio on the market before 2020," says Hammad Naqi Khan, Global Cotton Leader at WWF International´s Market Transformation Initiative.

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Premium prices for Better Cotton a challenge

Cotton cultivated with practices that require less chemicals in the form of fertilisers and pesticides is better for the environment and often cheaper for the farmer to produce because he saves money by not having to buy as much chemicals. This win-win perspective is part of the reasoning why Better Cotton should not be allowed to become a premium-prices commodity.

"Still, we have a challenge here," says Arif Makhdum, Director Sustainable Agriculture WWF Pakistan and part of the team that started the joint cotton projects in Pakistan in 2005. "Some supply chain actors feel they do something special that they don’t get anything extra for."

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IKEA launch movie about its cotton work

A six minutes long movie about IKEA´s work with cotton will be released in May. The movie covers the whole chain from seed to final product.  Click on below link to view a film teaser with Hammad Naqi Khan, WWF and Guido Verijke, IKEA.  
Click here to watch the teaser of the full version "IKEA and Cotton" movie

Cotton spray men and women pickers trained in Pakistan

The WWF and IKEA joint cotton projects in Pakistan work hard to train spray men and women cotton pickers to help them use safer, healthier and more sustainable practices in the fields. More than 1.400 spray men and around 800 women in the Punjabi districts of Bahawalpur, Lodhran and Toba Tek Singh have benefitted from over the past few months alone.

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Supporting more sustainable ginning in Pakistan

Having worked together with IKEA on more sustainable cotton production at farm level since 2005, WWF Pakistan is now taking sustainable practices further up the value chain, involving cotton ginners in the IKEA supply chain through an EU funded programme.

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Foto: Mauri Rautkari / WWF-Canon

WWF Pakistan in new project for more sustainable cotton ginning

WWF Pakistan has partnered with an EU-programme to support the Better Cotton system by introducing more sustainable production practices at the ginners, the first step in the process to refine raw cotton into textiles.

An agreement for a four-year project titled Sustainable cotton production in Pakistan’s cotton ginning SMEs (SPRING) was signed in January with the European Union Switch-Asia Programme. The project aims to involve at least 500 small and medium sized cotton ginners in Pakistan.

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WWF Pakistan supports Better Cotton "Decent Work" criteria

One important aspect of the Better Cotton Initiative's (BCI) criteria for Better Cotton is that farmers must promote "Decent Work", and work with continuous improvements. This is why WWF Pakistan supports various initiatives to help farmers improve health and safety, ensure that there is no child labour, forced labour or discrimination and secure workers’ right to freedom of association.

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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.

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Farmers' own success stories from India's cotton fields

Changing the way conventional cotton is cultivated in India has had a major impact on the environment and farmers' lives. Farmers adopting new and innovative farming methods with the help of the WWF IKEA Conservation Partnership get better yields and better prices in the market. Here, three Indian cotton farmers share their success stories.

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Pakistan leads the way towards
Better Cotton

As the Partnership moves into phase 4, it's time to celebrate the outstanding results from seven years of cooperation in cotton farming areas in Pakistan. Many thousands of farmers are already producing Better Cotton and making it available on the international market.

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Stephanie Berghaeuser

Cotton Partnership projects to enter a fourth phase

Plans are being finalised for IKEA to continue to work with WWF in cotton projects in India and Pakistan for another three years. This fourth phase aims at taking the work started in 2005 to the next level, enabling more and more farmers to adopt more sustainable cotton farming practices and meet the Better Cotton criteria.

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BCI validates system to identify Better Cotton farmers

An important aspect of Better Cotton is to make sure that farmers fulfil the criteria set up by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), and that this verification can be made with a reliable system. This is why the Better Cotton Initiative have conducted third-party verification surveys in Pakistan to get neutral and unbiased opinions about implementation of the Better Cotton system at farm level.

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Workshop to cooperate on Decent Work in Pakistan

A workshop based on the International Labor Organization (ILO) programme “Decent Work” was conducted under the Better Cotton Initiative at the WWF Pakistan office in Lahore in March.

The aim was to find synergies between cotton projects run in the same areas by several organisations, such as UNICEF, Save the Children Pakistan and the Better Cotton Initiative.

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Pakistan named ‘Pioneer Better Cotton Country’

The first certified Better Cotton bales were produced and harvested in Pakistan this past season, and The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) has now named Pakistan a ‘Pioneer Better Cotton Country’.

This honour follows a successful programme named the Better Cotton Fast Track Program (BCFTP), developing healthier farming communities and improved economics by introducing more environmentally adapted agricultural practices according to criteria developed by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). As a result, the project farmers in Pakistan produced almost 63,000 tonnes of Better Cotton.

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2010 was the first year of
Better Cotton production – ever!

Farmers in India and Pakistan are amongst the first to produce Better Cotton, which meets the criteria of the Better Cotton Initiative. During 2010, with the help from WWF Pakistan, BCI, IKEA and the Better Cotton Fast Track Fund, the project farmers in Pakistan produced almost 63,000 tonnes of Better Cotton.

With the support from WWF India, Marks & Spenser and local partners, the project farmers in Warangal, India, produced around 7,000 tonnes of Better Cotton. Members of the BCI, such as IKEA and Marks & Spencer are driving the demand for Better Cotton and encouraging farmers to grow only Better Cotton.

Article about Pakistan cotton projects in the Guardian

Pakistan's cotton farmers reap health benefits from using less pesticide, states The Guardian in an interesting article, which talked about cotton projects in Pakistan. BCI, IKEA and WWF are mentioned in the article, beside H&M.

Click on the link to read the article!  

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