About 10% of all agricultural chemicals used worldwide are processed by the cotton sector. This causes environmental damage, coupled with issues of high costs and low incomes, cotton creates large sustainability issues that produces reputational risks for brands and retailers.
In 2009 IDH convened a group of retailers and brands, CSOs and funds to develop together with IDH a strategy to speed up the implementation of Better Cotton. Better Cotton is a scalable model for cotton market transformation and creates tangible impact at scale on reducing pesticide and water use, improving yields and thus on livelihoods of farmers.
Over the years more (fashion) brands and retailers invested in a fund for farmer support programs, and in the procurement of mainstream volumes of Better Cotton. Within 4 years the program reached the milestone of producing 2 Million metric tons BCI cotton, reaching over 1,2 million cotton farmers. The Growth & Innovation Fund now supports Better Cotton projects in more than 20 countries across five regions of the world. It is the largest sustainability program in cotton.
Until 2020 IDH aims to support the production of 5 M metric tons of Better Cotton improving the livelihoods of more than 5 million cotton farmers and reducing water and pesticides use significantly.
Addressing pressing issues
Joint investments in training and capacity building enable brands and retailers to address pressing sustainability issues such as pesticide use, water efficiency and working conditions including child labor, gender inequities and poverty wages. The fund invests in capacity building programs that train smallholder farmers to optimize inputs, use chemicals in a safer manner, increase yields and generate higher profits.
Farmers commit to continuous improvement, which means they are required to develop plans to continuously improve their practices over time. By mobilizing both public and private funds, BCI is striving to mainstream Better Cotton, which is grown in a way that is measurably better for the environment and farming communities.
The Growth & Innovation Funds aims to reach 5 million farmers and apply to 30% of global cotton production by 2020.
Retailer and brand members contribute to the fund in proportion to how much Better Cotton they use in their supply chains. Companies who contribute more than €150,000 per year are invited to join the fund’s governing committees and participate in the development of the fund’s investment strategy, including the annual support program. Current members of these committees include some of the world’s largest cotton buyers, including adidas, H&M, IKEA, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co. and M&S.
Global institutional donors and government agencies are invited to match the fees contributed by the private sector in order to achieve a multiplier effect.
The fund builds connections throughout the supply chain, linking farmers to cotton businesses. Cooperation with international and local civil society, governments and other sustainability initiatives enables mainstream sustainable change. The fund’s public and private partners help maximise results by combining investments, knowledge and networks.
Group-based learning processes allow lead farmers to demonstrate the positive effects of new techniques, which spurs collaboration and knowledge exchange as well as widespread application. Best practices are made available to foster innovation in global agriculture.
Watch the video about the Growth & Innovation Fund
IDH is proud to announce that Andre Dellevoet former Group CEO for the Agricultural Business Initiative in Uganda is IDH its senior Africa strategist. With his extensive experience in various African countries, working with partners such as AGRA, BMGF and SNV and numerous bilateral and multilateral agencies he is a great asset to IDH
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.
9 members’ of The Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance have applied shared social and environmental principles across their loan portfolios. This encompasses roughly $600 million to businesses providing services to 2 million smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
|BCFTP Program Report 2010-2015||Report||2017|
|Service Delivery Models: Insights for continuous improvement and farm impact||Learning Study||2016|
|Growth&Innovation Fund Prospectus||Article||2016|
|End of Year Report||Impact Study||2016|
|From Smallholder to Small Business||Learning Study||2015|
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Better for the cotton farmers, better for the environment better for the future of the sector