German and Australian support for sustainable cotton

The BCI Growth and Innovation Fund, which project portfolio is managed by BCI, IDH and cotton sourcing companies has recieved significant financial support from the German government. At the same time the Australian Government launched a partnership with Cotton Australia and BCI to train 225,000 Pakistani cotton farmers.

BCI’s Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF) that together with IDH aims to reach out to 5 million mainly small-scale cotton producers in Asia and Africa for rise in sustainable production has recieved 2 M financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Making globalisation socially and environmentally fair – that is our common goal, both in our Textiles Partnership and in the Better Cotton Initiative. BCI is a leader in the effort to achieve better environmental and social standards in cotton production. Together with the private sector, civil society and producer country governments, we are defining standards,” said German development minister Gerd Muller.

In the same week the Australian Government, Cotton Australia have launched a partnership with BCI to support the training of approximately 225,000 Pakistani cotton farmers commencing with the 2017 cotton season. This partnership will deliver practical tools and the latest environmental and cutting-edge management practices aligned with internationally recognised quality assurance for sustainable cotton production. Pakistani farmers will be trained in techniques for growing cotton with a focus on improved environmental, social and economic benefits, in line with the Better Cotton Standard System.

Cotton is an important export earner for Pakistan – the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world. The partnership has been established to support Pakistan’s ability to compete in premium international cotton markets.

The Australian Government has committed AUD500,000 to this project which will be supported through the Australian aid program’s Business Partnerships Platform. Australia’s contribution will be matched by AUD2.4m from the BCI Growth and Innovation Fund. The BCI Growth and Innovation Fund’s matching funds come from BCI Retailer and Brand members, such as Adidas, IKEA, H&M, Levi Strauss & Co, Marks & Spencer, Cotton On, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Tommy Hilfiger and Nike.

Lena Staafgard, BCI Chief Operating Officer noted that the partnership represents an important step forward for BCI in promoting cross-learning between cotton growing countries. “This collaboration will deliver tangible value to cotton farmers in Pakistan as they gain access to the vast body of deep knowledge on good agricultural practices held by Cotton Australia, as well as being able to participate in BCI training programmes to promote more sustainable farming practices. At BCI, we’re excited to be able to link up our partners across the world, with the aim of benefitting the global cotton sector.”

Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Margaret Adamson welcomed the launch. “The partnership will work closely with Cotton Australia and Australian cotton farmers who will share their world-leading practices, skills and experience with farmers in Pakistan. By promoting Australian cotton practices we will aim to help improve the global reputation of Pakistan cotton, safeguarding cotton’s future in Pakistan,” Ms Adamson said.

Read more about the IDH cotton program here