On World Cotton Day 2020, we are taking the opportunity to celebrate the cotton farming communities at the heart of the industry, and at the heart of the Better Cotton Initiative. Below you will hear from cotton farmers from across the globe as they share their stories and details on how they are embedding sustainability into their farming practices.
"Promoting and embedding sustainability within cotton farming is more essential than ever. The Better Cotton Initiative exists to improve farmer livelihoods through the adoption of more sustainable practices. This past year has been challenging, but every crisis carries an opportunity. I applaud all the cotton farming communities around the globe that have adapted and persevered, and on World Cotton Day, I would like to thank them for their invaluable contributions to the sector."
MEET THE BCI FARMERS
BCI Farmer Balubhai Parmar | India
“It all began back in 2012, when a group of us BCI Farmers in Kanakya village set up a committee to help other farmers in our community use pesticides and fertilisers more efficiently. We wanted to promote plant-based natural alternatives, but they weren’t readily available locally, so we had to find a way to make it easier for farmers to gain access to these products at reasonable prices. And we also had to convince them to change their ways by showing them the results in the field.”
BCI Farmers in India Form Their Own Farmer-Owned Collective and Improve Their Livelihoods – Read Balubhai's Story.
© BCI/Vibhor Yadav. BCI Farmer Balubhai Parmar, the founding member of the Sonmath Farmer Producer Organisation. Kodinar, Gujarat, India. 2019.
BCI Farmer Mustafa Bülbül | Turkey
“Preventing child labour is a priority. In the past, families in our region have not traditionally considered child labour to be a problem, but through the ‘Toward Decent Working Conditions in Cotton Farms in Şanlıurfa’ project, we’ve learnt how important it is to address social issues in Şanlıurfa. We require our labour contractors to ensure the workers are not below the legal minimum age , and we deliver training to seasonal migrant workers so they know they can’t bring their children to work with them.”
Improving Working Conditions for Farm Workers in Şanlıurfa – Read Mustafa's Story.
BCI Farmer Almas Parveen | Pakistan
"This year, I raised my yield and profit by 18% and 23% respectively compared to the previous year, and I achieved a 35% reduction in pesticide use. With the additional profit, I have been able to support my family and pay for my brother’s wedding."
"I've also started to give talks to girls in schools letting them know that cotton farming could be a viable future for them, and last year, I worked with Pakistan’s education authorities to help establish a new primary school in my village."
Female BCI Farmer Becomes Role Model in Pakistani Cotton Community – Read Almas' Story.
© BCI/Khaula Jamil. BCI Farmer Almas Parveen standing by her tractor after ploughing her field. Vehari District, Punjab, Pakistan, 2018.
Agronomist Tata Djire | Mali
“Through BCI, we have supported women farmers in multiple ways – from more efficient harvesting techniques to raising their awareness of the importance of equal pay through special role play sketches for radio and television. We have also trained more than 2,000 women in leadership, which has given rise to the emergence of women leaders capable of promoting the interests of women in the cotton sector.”
One Woman's Journey to Improving the Lives of Rural Women in Mali – Read Tata's Story.
BCI Farmer Sharipov Habibullo | Tajikistan
“Installing a tubular irrigation system on my farm led me to save 1.8 million litres of water in one cotton season. I want to help farmers with less experience combat water challenges by taking a precision irrigation approach, using water sparingly to grow healthy plants. Witnessing the results of new techniques on my farm helps them understand the benefits before committing to making changes on their own farms.”
Trialling Innovative Water-Saving Practices in Tajikistan – Read Sharipov's Story.
©BCI/Emma Upton. BCI Farmer Sharipov Habibullo checks the water supply on his farm. Khujand, Tajikistan. 2019.
BCI Farmer Jam Muhammad Saleem | Pakistan
"I saw tears in my son’s eyes when I told him we were going to buy him some shoes… school shoes. Now, he is happy, healthy and confident that his dreams will be fulfilled.”
"I would like to support all my children in achieving higher education and I believe we have a bright future. I want to extend a big thank you to WWF-Pakistan and BCI for this programme, which has changed my life in so many ways.”
How BCI Decent Work Training Influenced a Farmer in Pakistan to Send His Son Back to School – Read Jam Muhammad's Story.
Farm Worker Ruksana Kausar | Pakistan
“I decide exactly how my additional income is spent. I feel proud of my decision to participate in this project and work independently, running my own business and making all the decisions. I enjoy what I’m doing and feel happy that I’m contributing to keeping the environment healthy. Above all, I have gained respect in my family and community.”
Female Farm Worker in Pakistan Fulfils Her Dream of Economic Independence – Read Ruksana's Story.
©BCI/Khaula Jamil. Farm worker Ruksana Kausar (wife of BCI Farmer) with her tree nursery. Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab, Pakistan. 2019.
BCI Farmer Vinodbhai Patel | India
“I believe nature can help me address insect problems. Through BCI, I’ve learnt about protecting the natural predators (such as ladybirds) of cotton-eating insects, as well as natural pesticides.”
“Just three years ago, the soil on my farm was so degraded, I could hardly find any earthworms in the soil. Now, I can see many more earthworms, which suggests my soil is recovering. My soil tests show that nutrient levels have increased.”
How a Cotton Farmer Defied the Odds to Embrace Natural Farming Methods – Read Vinodbhai Patel's Story.