Journey towards sustainable cotton continues

This month, IDH published the last report of the Better Cotton Fast Track Program (BCFTP). The progress on sustainable cotton doesn’t stop here though, as the BCFTP has merged into the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF) aiming for 30% of global cotton production to be sustainable by 2020. Carrying with it the legacy of an unprecedented coalition of major brands and retailers and a strategic investment portfolio of projects in major cotton producing geographies with an impressive track record of 35 M euro of investments.

Pramit Chanda, IDH Cotton program Director: We have achieved and exceeded our ambitious goals for farmers trained, Better Cotton production and hectares cultivated in every geography where we operated. From the strong base BCFTP has established, we now continue our ambitious journey towards sustainable cotton accounting for 30% of global cotton production by 2020. It is time for sustainable cotton to take center stage as an industry initiative whereby Better Cotton becomes the mainstream choice for systemic market transformation’.

BCFTP has successfully driven large scale farmer engagement with key implementing partners (IPs) in civil society and supply chain organizations, nurtured long-standing and new relationships with local government and industry partners, and achieved strong results from farmers and local partners.

This season through the BCFTP program nearly 2 million MT of Better Cotton was produce, over 663,000 farmers (of which 90% are smallholder farmers) were reached in 8 countries with mainstream impact on the Sustainable Development goals related to poverty reduction, environmental safeguarding and healthy soils.


BCFTP invested in India, the world’s largest cotton producer, in 2015 in 32 projects across 8 states, covering over 500.00 hectares, 2.6 million Euro. Over the course of BCFTP, India saw a 14-fold increase in the number of farmers licensed to produce Better Cotton or trained in Better Cotton principles, and the total hectares of licensed Better Cotton grew from 16,000 to over 582,000, producing over 30 times more MT Lint in 2015 than when the program first started.

BCI GIF will continue to drive market transformation to establish Better Cotton as a mainstream commodity.

Read more about the BCFTP impressive progress and results in China, Pakistan, India, Mali, Brazil, Turkey, Mozambique and Tajikistan in the end of year report, which can be downloaded here.

Volume-Based Fee

So how does the new fund work? Private partners—some of the world’s largest cotton

buyers—have agreed to pay a Volume-Based Fee (VBF) for their use of Better Cotton, and a group of investors are contributing funding. In this way, retailers and brands who use Better Cotton contribute to building farmer capacity for their own raw materials.

By mobilizing public and private sector funds, BCI GIF aims to achieve lasting impact by reaching 5 million farmers in key production countries and accounting for 30% of global cotton production by 2020. With a solid six-year track record of large-scale environmental benefits as well as social and economic improvements for cotton producers and their families, we are well on the way to achieving ambitious targets for 2020 and beyond.

Better Cotton is revolutionizing the cotton industry, and it couldn’t be more necessary in the face of pressures such as competing materials and climate change. Front runners realize that sustainable cotton is an imperative, and investing in Better Cotton is an investment in the future of business, livelihoods and planet alike. Current BCI GIF partners and members say it best:

“Get involved. Don’t just sign up to get the logo. Sign up if you’re really committed. The rewards are immense—enjoy it like we enjoyed it, you have a seat and a voice around the table, and you can actively help to shape the future strategy of sustainable cotton. That’s the exciting bit. It’s opened a whole new world of project management and wider global strategy on procuring commodities. There’s no downside.”

– Phil Townsend, M&S

“You not only discuss cotton—you discuss broader subjects: traceability, water stewardship. If you have the resources to invest and a cotton footprint, I think this is the place to be. I would strongly advise being part of this group from a business and sustainability perspective all together.”

– Dorte Rye Olsen, Sustainability – Jack & Jones (BESTSELLER)

Read more about the Growth and Innovation Fund