Better Cotton updates field-level principles & criteria

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2023-04-26 12:29:37 – Switzerland

Better Cotton has updated its Principles & Criteria (P&C), to make sure it continues to be a useful instrument for promoting continuous improvement and delivering sustainable impact at the field level. 

The P&C outlines the organization's strategy for more environmentally friendly cotton production and specifies the conditions farmers must meet in order to obtain a license and market their cotton as "Better Cotton." More than two million farmers currently hold licenses, ranging from large to smallholder enterprises.

The revised Principles include the two cross-cutting themes of gender equality and climate change as well as management, natural resources, crop protection, fiber quality, decent work, and smallholder livelihoods.

The most recent revision was completed in February after lengthy negotiations to ensure that it accurately reflected the organization's most recent focus areas, including as its 2030 Strategy, and was in line with global trends toward more sustainable agriculture value chains and market rules. Version 3.0 (v. 3.0) has been improved in accordance with the guidelines of good practice from ISEAL, a recognized authority on sustainability standards, and will be available for licensing beginning with the 2024–25 season.

As a more locally relevant standard that tackles the environmental, social, and economic issues most important to cotton production today, the new P&C will, in reality, take a farmer-centric approach. With the help of earlier revisions and user feedback, it has been reframed to close important gaps and eliminate redundant needs.

By supporting regenerative agriculture practices, more environmentally friendly crop protection techniques, and efficient water usage, P&C modifications will ensure the responsible use, conservation, and enhancement of natural resources, accelerating environmental advances.

From a social perspective, the revised standard will strengthen the emphasis placed on generating impact and fostering welfare in agricultural communities, supported by more stringent rules regarding gender equality and decent work, as well as the establishment of a new principle: smallholder livelihoods.

Additionally, a new section on climate change will advise farmers on how to best respond to problems on the farm and emphasize the most effective, area-specific solutions.

Alan McClay, CEO of Better Cotton, said that they are sure that the updated guidelines will support cotton-growing communities in continuing to make changes at the field level after an 18-month evaluation process. Their standard, which has a practice-oriented focus, improves criteria for both environmental and social problems and even goes further to first include farmer livelihoods. They appreciate all of the stakeholders who contributed to this most recent modification because it is only with their help that they can make sure the P&C is efficient throughout their sector.

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