Stories from the Supply Chain

BCI are working with pairs of ginners and spinners to highlight the efforts of those who are making Better Cotton a reality. They are proof of a system that works, and which is gaining momentum.

Here they tell us in their own words why others should join the movement and continue to procure more and more Better Cotton.

Huafu HengFeng Cotton Industry and Huafu Top Dyed Melange Yarn, China

OUR GINNER AND SPINNER PAIR
(download a pdf of this interview here)

Mr. Chen HaoMr. Chen Hao, Deputy General Manager (Purchasing & Material)

Xinjiang Huafu HengFeng Cotton Industry Co was established in June 2007, located in Awati County, Akesu Area, Xinjiang. It is an agricultural enterprise focusing on the cotton industry, leading agriculture industrialization in the municipality.

 

Ms. Sandie Peng

Ms. Sandie Peng, Vice Director of Marketing

Founded in 1993, Huafu Top Dyed Melange Yarn Co is a global manufacturer and supplier of middle-high grade innovated yarn. With its headquarters located in Shenzhen, it has grown into one of the largest mélange yarn enterprises in the world after 18-year development.

WHY BETTER COTTON?

CH: Before joining BCI, cotton farmers’ pesticide application was not an educated process, and potential safety problems existed. By conforming to the Stockholm Convention in the project, our cotton farmers’ habits of optional pesticide application have changed, and both production safety and the environmental standards have improved.

SP: Huafu is in agreement with the BCI mission. Huafu is a socially responsible manufacturer that also strongly advocates environmental processes throughout the supply chain. Compared with traditional techniques, Huafu’s fibre dye-then-spin techniques have reduced water usage by more than 50%; and since 2011, we have been working with BCI on improving cotton producing environments, countryside, community and economic development. BCI has brought us Mass Balance Administration and the Better Cotton Tracer, which rids suppliers of inventory pressure. That, alongside the increasing number of brands BCI’s Standard connects suppliers with, opens up new business fields for Huafu.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN PARTNER?

CH: We accessed information about our business partners in the supply chain by collecting supplier information through both the introductions made by the retailers, and the BCI official website.

DID YOU ENCOUNTER ANY CHALLENGES IN SUPPLYING OR PURCHASING BETTER COTTON?

CH: We have clear processes that keep things running smoothly. First we use our list of licensed BCI farmers to verify and separate BC seed cotton from conventional seed cotton. Then more than 50 workers handpick contaminants out of the seed cotton to prepare it for the ginning process, where we produce 100% BC lint bales. We store the BC bales separately from the conventional bales. Because our gins in Xinjiang have huge empty spaces, physical segregation hasn’t been a challenge for us.

SP: Huafu has its own BCI cotton fields and gins, making the cotton purchasing straightforward. We feel that BCI could strengthen the promotion and training to fabric and garment factories, especially BCI’s concept, Mass Balance and the Better Cotton Tracer system. This could improve the communication efficiency between the clients and Huafu. As Huafu has built factories and sold BCI cotton in Vietnam, we hope to be able to issue BCCU certificates to clients in the name of Vietnam Huafu in future.

WHY SHOULD OTHER SUPPLY CHAIN ACTORS BECOME BCI MEMBERS?

CH: As a result of BCI’s Decent Work criteria, cotton farmers receive training and work according to employment contracts which standardise their tasks and guarantee their rights as employees. In addition to this, as part of BCI farming principles we employ professors and experts to oversee farmers at several stages of cotton growing and solve problems and puzzles on site, which helps farmers to produce more successful crops. By scientifically soil testing fertilizer application, the cotton output has increased, and with costs cut, the farmers’ income often increases.

SP: Working with BCI not only helps us to promote Huafu’s environmental principles but also greatly increases our sales volume. With further emphasis on environment protection by social groups, Huafu is experiencing success as one of the first collectives to join the BCI project in China and offer a recognised cotton product to brands and retailers.

WHAT DIFFERENCES, IF ANY, HAVE BEEN MADE TO YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS AFTER LEARNING ABOUT AND WORKING WITH THE BETTER COTTON STANDARD SYSTEM?

CH: After Huafu joined the BCI project we started following the decent work principles to improve the farmer and worker conditions, giving everyone concerned a much better sense of security in the work they do. Protocols now include wearing protective clothes when applying pesticide, and cotton hats and aprons to keep foreign fibres away when picking the seed cotton. By the same token, gin workers cannot enter working areas without first putting on the necessary protective hats, masks and clothing.

SP: We can see the improvement in lint cotton quality as a result of our farming and ginning work in adherence with the BCI standard. Our product used 5,000MT of BC in 2014, and in 2015, we have already increased by 100% to 10,000MT. It’s amazing progress, and we are looking to increase a further 50% in the next year, knowing that our lint cotton is more responsible and sustainable by being grown following BCI principles and criteria.

Promotionally, Huafu supported the 2015 BCI China Supply Chain event as a partner, which was a great opportunity to make Huafu visible to more brands and supplier members. We are looking for more opportunities to work with BCI to promote Huafu as a responsible enterprise.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE FOR BETTER COTTON?

Both: Nowadays, with the global environment under increasing threat and the public paying more attention to environment protection and sustainable development, we believe that there will be more and more retail brands, fabric factories, spinning mills and other enterprises in the supply chain taking the environment protection and sustainability of the products and their suppliers into account. Under such circumstances, BCI meets contemporary demand. Its non-premium sales, flexible operating system and replaceable principle will help it to develop faster and better.

 

Murshid Cotton Ginners and Alkaram Textile Mills, Pakistan

OUR GINNER AND SPINNER PAIR
(download a pdf of this interview here)

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Jamna dass Murshid, Murshid Cotton Ginners: MCG was founded in 1980, and has served farmers in Sindh, Pakistan, with three Ginnall gins which incorporate the highest technology available in the area.

Alkaram LogoalkaramMr. Sajid Haroon, Director, Alkaram Textile Mills: Alkaram Group is a leading Pakistani exporter of textile products to the US, Europe and China. The group was founded in March 1986 with a vision to be a provider of innovative textile solutions worldwide. We manufacture and supply distinguished fabrics for apparel, home and industrial markets with clients all over the world. Our ability to create forward-thinking solutions that give our clients a competitive advantage is what sets us apart.

WHY BETTER COTTON?

MCG: We feel that supporting farmers in the production and marketing of Better Cotton improves the security of the supply chain, improves the well-being of farmers, and ultimately is good for business.
ALK: We’ve been associated with BCI since 2009 and are using Better Cotton for well-known brands such as IKEA and Walmart. As a BCI Supplier & Manufacturer member we are supporting the BCI objectives and goals for the betterment of social, economic and environmental factors in the cotton industry. BCI is building close relationships between ginners, supplier and manufacturers, and brands and retailers – bringing them to the same table and facilitating the exchange of knowledge on the Better Cotton supply chain system. By using Better Cotton we are moving towards sustainability, which is a fundamental need for the textile sector.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN PARTNER?

MCG: We were first contacted by Alkaram enquiring about a delivery of Better Cotton. We always maintain a stock of Better Cotton so we were able to respond immediately. We are known as quality producer in Sukkur region so we regularly receive enquiries.
ALK: We were first introduced to Better Cotton by IKEA who use it in their textile products. So we then approached BCI registered ginners to supply us with Better Cotton bales. Since being associated with BCI we’ve actively participated in its programs, using the traceability systems to see availability of Better Cotton and keep our inventory in good order. We appreciate the efforts of BCI for connecting supply chain actors in the textile sector.

HOW DO YOU FIND AND PURCHASE BETTER COTTON?

MCG: Our agents travel to villages where we know there are Better Cotton licensed farmers, thanks to the information provided by BCI. We train our agents on the importance of segregation at field level for Better Cotton, keeping it separate from conventional cotton, and we also contact large farmers who we know have produced Better Cotton exclusively on their farms. Though it used to be a challenge, we are now better equipped to deal with this.
ALK: Our team visits cotton fields in different regions of Pakistan early in the season, also contacting local ginners to assess quality, quantity and availability of cotton, as well as crop position. In the second phase on the basis of visit reports, contacts are established with the brokers to assign task for purchasing of cotton. We received samples from ginners and after testing on HVI, we purchase cotton lots. Testing is then performed again for purchased lots and the accepted lots are incorporates into our inventory. The BCI Mass-Balance system is very helpful to be able to deliver on buyers’ demands for Better Cotton yarn on time.

WHY SHOULD OTHER COMPANIES BECOME BCI MEMBERS?

MCG: There are two reasons: firstly if you are a businessman, it represents a good current and future business opportunity. Secondly, if you want to be a good citizen, Better Cotton is trying to save our planet’s scarce resources such as water, as well as keeping us safe from disease by minimising the use of harmful pesticides.
ALK: The BCI goal for the betterment of social, economic, and environmental factors affecting the cotton sector is in the greater interests of all stakeholders. Everyone knows the importance of environmental issues which face us globally, such as water issues, environmental issues, and health issues – especially in the developing world.
BCI’s work is to continually improve cotton-growing practices and to have Better Cotton recognised as a mainstream sustainable commodity. Farmers associated with this program and the BCI farming practices enjoy a lot of benefits including environmental benefits, lower production costs, and better use of water.
To create good quality products you need good quality cotton, so the focus is not only on improving productivity but also on seed selection to create a better yield for the farmers and better fibre quality for spinners. So other supply chain actors should take the initiative to come forward and join the Better Cotton movement, to support it and to make it a success for the socio-economic development of their country.

WHAT DIFFERENCES HAVE BEEN MADE TO YOUR BUSINESS AFTER LEARNING ABOUT AND WORKING WITH THE BETTER COTTON STANDARD SYSTEM?

MCG: At buying level (farm level), the major difference is that our farmers are well aware of the criteria for using water, pesticides and how to reduce contamination, and we feel reassured to work with them.
At ginning level, we are also better aware of how to make best use of our resources to increase production, minimise production costs, improve working conditions by taking safety measures, decrease noise levels, and improve fibre quality.
At selling level we are now maintaining online our daily production report, daily buying and selling report and daily stock report with specification of fibre quality, which increases the demand for Better Cotton.
ALK: Our overall business volume has increased thanks to our long-term commitment to use Better Cotton in our products. Since Alkaram has been in forefront for procuring Better Cotton, more customers are approaching Alkaram for future business.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE FOR BETTER COTTON?

MCG: Our vision is to see the cotton supply chain in Pakistan modernised from the ground level up, with the help of the BCI Implementing Partners (who work with farmers to train them to grow Better Cotton). We are very grateful to all BCI Implementing Partners.
ALK: Our senior management is committed to adopting and successfully implementing the Better Cotton Supply Chain System and is committed to increasing Better Cotton volumes in its total cotton procurement. Our target is to increase our volume in the current season up to 25-30%, and up to 35-40% in 2015.
As the 4th largest cotton producer in the world, we feel that Pakistan has a lot of potential to benefit from BCI’s work to make improve the social, environmental & economic impacts of cotton production, and their aim to develop 30% of global cotton production as Better Cotton by 2020.

Paul Reinhart AG and Noman Group, Bangladesh

OUR GINNER AND SPINNER PAIR
(download a pdf of this interview here)

MarcoMarco Baenninger, Vice President  and Head Sustainability at Paul Reinhart AG: We are a leading worldwide cotton merchant, founded in 1788 and headquartered in Winterthur, Switzerland. Our commitment, know-how and financial strength give our business partners the confidence that we can live up to our engagements. We can offer consumers a wide choice of cotton and help producers to gain access to all markets of the world.

Noman GroupMd. Nurul Islam, Chairman & Founder of Noman Group: We are one of the largest textile Industrial Groups in Bangladesh, with  28 sister concern factories. The Zaber & Zubair Fabrics Ltd. is a sister concern of the Noman Group.

 

WHY BETTER COTTON?

MB: Being engaged in the supply chain from producer to spinner we can provide and offer our clients sustainably produced cotton throughout the year. Better Cotton is always available in sizeable quantities especially as we can sell our qualified Cotton made in Africa into the BCI supply chain.
NI: Noman Group places great importance on ethical treatment of our employees and responsible sourcing of our raw materials. We are proud to support Better Cotton.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN PARTNER?

MB: We received an inquiry from the Noman Group for a sizeable quantity of CmiA- BC in 2013. We did our best to guide them through the registration process after the BCI Better Cotton Tracer was introduced. Thanks to the good availability of Better Cotton, we were able to offer them the requested origin.
NI: We received an order for Better Cotton and were immediately able to respond because we had credit units available. We simultaneously used the tracking system to immediately locate a new source of supply from a ginner.

DID YOU ENCOUNTER ANY CHALLENGES IN SUPPLYING OR PURCHASING BETTER COTTON?

MB: Most of our supplying partners have been known to us already for several years. As more origins and growers start producing Better Cotton, sourcing has become progressively easier. The Mass-Balance system allows us to increase the traded volumes of sustainable cotton quickly, while keeping prices competitive and avoiding expensive segregation along the supply chain. It is important that segregation is taking place up to the ginner’s level in the supply chain, assuring that the total quantity of Better Cotton bales is kept under control.
NI: We faced no problems  – we feel very comfortable purchasing Better Cotton!

WHY SHOULD OTHER SUPPLY CHAIN ACTORS BECOME BCI MEMBERS?

MB: It brings us closer to all actors in the supply chain. In particular the contact with our clients, (mainly spinners), has been intensified. For our company, trading Better Cotton is more than simply a trend; it is a strategic decision. Better Cotton is traded worldwide in substantial and rapidly growing volume – it isn’t a niche market anymore. As a global active cotton merchant, supporting and trading Better Cotton is one of our strategic targets.
NI: We have seen that BCI has a very transparent system and we appreciate this. Working with BCI would benefit our peers and other supply chain actors too.

WHAT DIFFERENCES, IF ANY, HAVE BEEN MADE TO YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS AFTER LEARNING ABOUT AND WORKING WITH THE BETTER COTTON STANDARD SYSTEM?

MB: Being part of the BCI community has definitely helped us to gain access to new customers. BCI is providing an excellent platform to share ideas and opinions, also with Retailers and Brands who are not our direct partners in the supply chain. What has definitely improved is communication – learning from our suppliers how farm practices can be improved at field level.
NI: The Better Cotton Standard System maintains & ensures quality processes. This has made a difference to our business and it is also a demand from our customers.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE FOR BETTER COTTON?

MB: Our long term vision is that Better Cotton becomes a worldwide standard in terms of how cotton will be produced. The way the market for Better Cotton is growing and the commitment of all members of the BCI community, makes us believe that this is not only a vision, but will soon be reality.
NI: BCI is the latent demand of the Customer.

Nazam Industries and Gul Ahmed Textile Mills Ltd., Pakistan

OUR GINNER AND SPINNER PAIR
(download a pdf of this interview here)

nazam Malik Muhammad Aijaz Nazam Awan, Managing Director,  M Nazam Industries.

Nazam Industries was founded by our Chairmen Malik Nazam Hussain Awan. We manufacture high quality cotton bales, cotton seeds, cotton cake, Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Cotton Seed Oil, Canola Meal, Sunflower Meal, Rapeseed Meal and Cotton Seed Oil. Our company is equipped with state-of-art infrastructure with a ginning capacity of 1,43,000 Kg. of Raw Cotton per day.

Bashir Ali Mohammad, Chairmangul ahmed, Gul Ahmed Textile Mills Ltd.

Established in 1953, Gul Ahmed Textile Mills is equipped with the latest state-of-the-art spinning and weaving machines and modern yarn dyeing, processing & stitching units. We are a composite unit – making everything from cotton yarn to finished products.

WHY BETTER COTTON?

MM: Better Cotton has been identified as a solution for the biggest issues facing the Cotton Industry. It addresses issues from grower to user, creating linkages in the supply chain. It facilitates farmers to benefit from ongoing training and to optimise profitability through adopting improved techniques. BCI also  provides a large list of ginners who will respect cotton.

BAM: Being a leading responsible textile mill it is imperative that sustainability of the raw materials industry, particularly cotton, is ensured both locally and globally. Better Cotton provides a desirable option for the well being of all supply chain actors, and ultimately benefits business and society.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN PARTNER?

MM: Through the Better Cotton Tracer it is very easy to contact and to be contacted by all the supply chain actors involved in Better Cotton. We receive a lot of inquiries for Better Cotton from many other BCI Spinners and Textile Trader Members.

BAM: Being an innovative company, when our supplier approached us for products made using Better Cotton, we took the lead and became a pioneer in promoting Better Cotton in Pakistan. We worked closely with the supply chain actors involved and found this to be a very rewarding business opportunity.

[columbreak]DID YOU ENCOUNTER ANY CHALLENGES IN SUPPLYING OR PURCHASING BETTER COTTON?

MM: Not really, no. We have strong and direct linkages to growers, most of whom are now registered with BCI. Furthermore, a list of registered growers is also provided to us along with their contact details which we find helpful.

BAM: Our cotton selection team receives confirmation of the Better Cotton available with the registered ginners. We then physically evaluate the specification of the Better Cotton. The Mass Balance traceability system and document chain make the authenticity and traceability of Better Cotton more transparent and easier to manage.

WHY SHOULD OTHER SUPPLY CHAIN ACTORS BECOME BCI MEMBERS?

MM: Addressing social issues in the sector such as water usage, environmental and health problems alongside being a business opportunity is the beauty of Better Cotton. By joining BCI we have a chance to play our part for the betterment of this sector and to improve cotton growing practices. Further to this, the increased networking, both upward and downward in the supply chain, creates more opportunities for my business.

BAM: BCI’s membership platform provides unlimited opportunities to gain access to the global supply chain actors involved in the Better Cotton.

WHAT DIFFERENCES, IF ANY, HAVE BEEN MADE TO YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS AFTER LEARNING ABOUT AND WORKING WITH THE BETTER COTTON STANDARD SYSTEM?

MM: Since working with BCI, we have seen better supply chain management. The approach to supply chain actors safety and security has improved as has the working environment of cotton workers and growers. We have also seen an improved fibre quality with reduced transit contamination. We have experienced an increase in overall turnover of our business. This is through direct contact with growers reducing the cost of the middle man. The price absorbed by middle man is now directly delivered to grower.

BAM: The implications of the Better Cotton Standard System have delivered us increases in the productivity across the mill and increased employee engagement.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE FOR BETTER COTTON?

MM: We are committed to adopting and successfully implementing the Better Cotton system. We have almost converted 45% of our cotton procurement to Better Cotton and have the  target to increase our volume next season to 75%. We are the 4th largest cotton producer and almost third largest consumer of cotton in the world. With the collaboration of the BCI Team and their partners we play a large part in the implementation of Better Cotton practices to address the environmental, social and economic impact of the cotton sector.

BAM: The future for Better Cotton is promising yet challenging. Sustainability of cotton production, well being at the farm level, and higher Better Cotton uptake can only be achieved with consistent consumption throughout the supply chain. Increased awareness within the cotton and textile supply chain along with the consumer of the can only make the future of the sector more sustainable.

Binzhou Yuhai Cotton and Shandong Xinyi Textile, China

OUR GINNER AND SPINNER PAIR
(download a pdf of this interview here)

ginnerMr Li Haiyong, Binzhou Yuhai Cotton Co. Ltd.

Yuhai Cotton Co., Ltd was established on 17th July 2006. The main business of the company is the delivery and processing of seed cotton; purchases and sales of lint cotton; processing of cotton seeds, short fibres and the sterile seeds and the processing of used cotton.  The company’s annual production of lint cotton is more than 3,000 MT. The company has gained  trust and a good reputation from numerous farmers and enterprises due to its principles of quality and credit first.

spinner
Mr Xu Zebin, Shandong Xinyi Textile Co. Ltd (sub branch of Shandong Huitong Textile).

Shandong Xinyi Textile Co. Ltd was founded in Jan 2011 with 1 million RMB registered capital and 2 million RMB enterprise assets. It is a branch of the Shandong Huitong Textile Group.  It currently has 150 employees and its main products are denim fabric dedicated cotton yarns, such as Slubby yarn, Stretch yarn and Raw yarn. The annual production is more than 3,000 tons and annual turnover is 9.6 million RMB. In 2011, the company was rated as an advanced unit by Dong A County Government. In 2013, it was rewarded as the creditworthy company by Liaocheng City Government.

WHY BETTER COTTON?

YC: It’s a good opportunity to help farmers to improve their farming technologies – especially in Binzhou area. Most of the cotton land here is barren alkaline soil, and so the farmers really need help to improve their practices. Through BCI, the farmers livelihoods can be improved through lower pesticide and fertilizer cost and increased profits. To my knowledge, In 2013, BCI project farmers saw around 2,000RMB/Ha more profit than in 2012. Also, long term, BCI supports the business growth of our ginning company, leaving a better future for our grandchildren.
SXT: When we became aware of the Better Cotton Standard System, we added a new business rule in our company: ‘Being fair to employees.’ This is an important criteria of Decent Work and shows the company’s social responsibility. In addition, we modified our cotton purchasing process to increase the proportion of Better Cotton and other sustainable cotton we purchase. It is a great honour to be a member of BCI.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN PARTNER?

YC: Huitong Textile introduced Better Cotton to us. We had a good business relationship with Huitong, and were their first choice as a BCI project ginner. In 2013, we produced our first bale of Better Cotton. Our total Better Cotton lint production was around 4,000MT, though most of our bales (aside from Huitong’s consumption) were sold to the state reserve. In 2014, the government will end the reserve policy, and all ginners must find clients by themselves. We think this will be a good opportunity for us. Because we have Better Cotton, we have more potential clients than conventional cotton ginners.
SXT: Cooperation with Yuhai has been in place from the beginning. We had a good relationship based on several years of working together. Both sides, in line with the principles of good faith and the target of long-term cooperation, reached an agreement to be part of the production chain for Better Cotton.

DID YOU ENCOUNTER AND CHALLENGES IN SUPPLYING OR PURCHASING BETTER COTTON?

YC: Our management team participated in a series of training sessions delivered by BCI and before cotton picking season, training was delivered to employees. At the beginning, we faced some challenges such as the lack of awareness of segregation and cleaning processes, meanwhile, more cleaning requirements and strict management increased the workload. After the continuous efforts to learn and correct these issues, we were on the right track. Production is smoother now.

SXT: We received our first Better Cotton order from H&M in 2012. As a key supplier to H&M, we needed to correspond with their approach, so we started to purchase Better Cotton. It was difficult to find Better Cotton at the time and prices were high. The management team moved their sights to a Better Cotton farming project. The project stabilised our Better Cotton supply. The price is now under control, and at same time, it will improve farmers livelihoods and the environment. It’s a win-win business for both us and the farmer, so Huitong became an Implementing Partner of BCI in the Binzhou area.

WHY SHOULD OTHER SUPPLY CHAIN ACTORS BECOME BCI MEMBERS?

YC: Better Cotton is a good platform for members to show their social responsibility. We now find it easier to make contact with other business partners too. Being part of BCI also brings us more modern management and marketing knowledge. The supply chain events and regular training sessions are great opportunities to show others the advantage of working with us.
SXT: As a member of BCI, we have more stable customers. More and more customers are asking for Better Cotton. BCI’s system makes us famous through its membership platform and brings greater business opportunities. The Better Cotton Tracer allows us to issue Output Declaration Forms to prove the origin of our product, giving us and our customers more confidence in using Better Cotton. Mass-Balance gives us flexibility in business practice and helps us save on cost and decrease lead times.

WHAT DIFFERENCES, IF ANY, HAVE BEEN MADE TO YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS AFTER LEARNING ABOUT AND WORKING WITH THE BETTER COTTON STANDARD SYSTEM?

YC: BCI us to gain more high-value customers. After we got involved with BCI, we focussed more on the quality of production, especially in terms of contamination control. All employees were trained to wear hats and appropriate work clothes in the workshop to decrease foreign fibre. We also clean the machines more regularly. As for the improvements in working conditions, all the employees accept BCI’s concept of Decent Work. The employees are more focussed on self-protection, and the management team are more focussed on sustainable development.
SXT: As an IP, we worked with BCI to train the project farmers to improve their farming practice and protect their own interests. We also influenced the conventional farmer’s thinking – more local conventional farmers are interesting in joining BCI. As a spinner member, we gain more business and also publicise our company through BCI’s platform. We take better care of our employees now, and focus on a more sustainable development.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE FOR BETTER COTTON?

YC: BCI now needs to focus on greater promotion of spinners and fabric using Better Cotton, engage more retailers to use Better Cotton, which will help ginners receive more orders. Ultimately, this will help not only ginners, but also farmers to sell their Better Cotton more easily.
SXT: BCI should consider setting up a Better Cotton industry alliance through the current BCI platform, connect supply chain actors up and down the value chain more closely. Better Cotton supply should also be increased to help eliminate any price premiums.

S.S.D. Cotton Ginners and Oil Mills and Nagina Group, Pakistan

OUR GINNER AND SPINNER PAIR
(download a pdf of this interview here)

Ginner SSD CottonGINNER: Mr. Ludoo Mal, Owner of S.S.D. Cotton Ginners and Oil Mills
We have been involved in Ginning since 1994 when we set up Faisal Cotton Factory in Saleh Pat and started work as suppliers of IKEA. S.S.D. Cotton Ginners was set up in 2012 with the latest technology available in Pakistan. We were the first ginner in the region to be registered with BCI.

Spinner Nagina GroupSPINNER: Mr. Hakim Ali, Raw Materials Manager Nagina Group
Nagina Group was founded on May 16th 1967 with the incorporation of Nagina Cotton Mills Ltd. Since then, we have expanded our operations in textile manufacturing and diversified into other sectors; construction, commodity trading, and financial services. Ellcot Spinning Mills Ltd, Nagina Cotton Mills Ltd and Prosperity Weaving Mills Ltd form the group. Nagina Group has its own gas power plant to fulfil it’s energy requirements.

WHY BETTER COTTON?

LM: Better Cotton is important to our business as;
1.Better Cotton provides us with good buyers.
2.More and more buyers contact us – there is always demand for our cotton.
3.The local supply chain has transformed now that farmers produce Better Cotton.
HA: The Better Cotton Initiative aims to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN PARTNER?

LM: We were contacted by Nagina Group with an enquiry regarding an order for Better Cotton. We always maintain a stock, so were able to respond immediately.
HA: Through receiving orders for Better Cotton from various international markets; Turkey, China etc.

DID YOU ENCOUNTER ANY CHALLENGES IN SUPPLYING OR PURCHASING BETTER COTTON?

LM: We receive a list of licensed farmers from BCI. As soon as picking starts, WWF-Pakistan updates us via mail about the availability of Better Cotton. Our agents then go to farmers to procure Better Cotton. There are also large growers as well who are in the direct contact with us.
HA: There is a process in place: First, brokers inform us about the source of Better Cotton, and then we send our cotton selectors to check and verify the quality of the cotton using various technical testing measurements. If the cotton results are up to our standards, we purchase it.

 

WHY SHOULD OTHER SUPPLY CHAIN ACTORS BECOME BCI MEMBERS?

LM: We are not member of BCI (we are a registered Ginner), however, being so is very good for business.
HA: We see the following benefits from being BCI members:
1. Access to the BCI traceability system.
2.We are listed as registered members on BCI’s website.
3.We have the right to communicate about our membership, enhancing professional relationships with ginners worldwide.
4.We are able to attend various BCI training workshops.

WHAT DIFFERENCES, IF ANY, HAVE BEEN MADE TO YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS AFTER LEARNING ABOUT AND WORKING WITH THE BETTER COTTON STANDARD SYSTEM?

LM: In collaboration with WWF-Pakistan, we conduct training sessions on quality with farmers. Together, we were also able to develop in house lab testing for seed cotton moisture. These practices have contributed to better quality cotton for us. Since being made aware of Decent Work Principles, we have constructed new, improved workers quarters away from the ginning hall, and every day, the factory manager’s first job is to inspect the sanitation facilities in the workers’ quarters. We have improved health and safety measures for our workers and now have a strict process in place to ensure that we do not employ any person under the age of 18.
HA: Workers are under less physical pressure and have improved efficiency. Furthermore, our production fibre quality has improved.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE FOR BETTER COTTON?

LM: As far as the sustainability of cotton production is concerned, the future is very bright. For the farmer, there are two main benefits. Firstly, the farmer has an improved market in which to sell his cotton. Secondly, our area is a desert area dependent on irrigation. Following training, farmers can utilise water saving techniques.
HA: BCI is helping us to improve our production quality as well as assisting us to approach different manufacturers, traders & ginners on an international platform. Nagina group is in the process of launching a 250,000 garments stitching unit with state of the art Tonell washing machines. Our vision is to become a BCI intensive garment supply chain source for International retailers. We will have integrated spinning, weaving, cut, make, sew and trim to provide 360 degree solution for retailers.

Patel Cotton Industries (PCI) and Welspun, India

OUR GINNER AND SPINNER PAIR
(download a pdf of this interview here)

PCI pic

Mr Jayesh Patel , Patel Cotton Industries (PCI).
The PCI team have a legacy of 60 years of experience in the Sustainable Textile Industry. Jointly, Patel Cotton Industries (one of the largest ginners in Gujarat India), Omax Cotspin (a newly established state of the art spinning unit) and STAC Pvt Ltd (a sustainable farming and trading company), are working together to support producers in the farming and marketing of their cotton grown to different sustainable standards. We export globally and have recognition of brands such as H&M, IKEA and Tesco.

Welspun picMarazban F Velati, Welspun, India. 
The Welspun Group is one of India’s fastest growing conglomerates and a fully integrated player within the Pipes, Plates & Coils and Home Textiles sectors. Welspun is the largest integrated towel manufacturer in Asia and a leading supplier to 14 of the top 30 US retailers. Our manufacturing base sits within our core facility in Anjar, Gujarat. We have other units in different parts of India and a plant in the USA and Saudi Arabia. Welspun has a highly developed CSR programme which focuses on the three ‘E’s – Education, Empowerment & Health and Environment. With an aim to give back to society, we have driven a campaign to empower the underprivileged and are establishing a sustainable business model that takes care of the environment. The social activities aren’t just limited to high profile projects, every Welspun employee is encouraged to contribute to the community in any way they can.

WHY BETTER COTTON?

JP: BCI is giving us an opportunity to work with farmers and improve numerous aspects of cotton farming.
MFV: Better Cotton supports social and economic aspects of farming by increasing farmers’ yields through environmental sustainability initiatives. As our focus is on three ‘E’s; Education, Empowerment & Health and Environment, BCI fits our focus. We believe that BCI are doing a great job in educating farmers on various aspects of sustainability.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN PARTNER?

JP: Since we have been in the business of ginning we have been in contact with several spinners – one of them is Welspun. When they learnt that we are connected to BCI Farmers, our relationship with them was further cemented.
MFV:Patel Cotton had been supplying conventional cotton to us for a while, and once we knew that they were linked to BCI Famers, this made them our preferred choice for supply.

 

DID YOU ENCOUNTER ANY CHALLENGES IN SUPPLYING OR PURCHASING BETTER COTTON?

JP: As we are located close to Better Cotton farms, the procedure has been easy for us. Once picked, and when the farmer is ready to sell the cotton, our field representatives in the local area are contacted and the price is agreed based on the prevailing market price and quality. Farmers are paid immediately after the cotton is delivered.
MFV:We procure Better Cotton from ginners who are registered in BCI’s traceability system. The system of mass balances has helped us as we don’t need to keep inventories and further yarn sales can be made from our existing stocks.

WHY SHOULD OTHER SUPPLY CHAIN ACTORS BECOME BCI MEMBERS?

JP: BCI membership gives you exposure to the supply chain. Members can gather information about different developmental aspects of business. It is a platform to share experiences which support us to grow in a sustainable way.
MFV:BCI gives us visibility in to the supply chain, and also gives us an edge in our marketing.

WHAT DIFFERENCES, IF ANY, HAVE BEEN MADE TO YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS AFTER LEARNING ABOUT AND WORKING WITH THE BETTER COTTON STANDARD SYSTEM?

JP: BCI has provided us with a  more focused market and easier access to new customers.
MFV:Our yarn quality has improved a lot – we see significantly reduced foreign fibre contamination in Better Cotton.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE FOR BETTER COTTON?

JP: Better Cotton has no limits. There are a lot of areas and regions that are currently untapped where Better Cotton can grow.
MFV:There could be challenges to face in reaching out to the large numbers of farmers who are currently in remote locations, however, we believe Better Cotton will go a long way in sustainable cotton production – it will definitely have a positive impact on the environment.

Agrocel Industries and Vardhman Textiles, India

OUR GINNER AND SPINNER PAIR
(download a pdf of this interview here)

Agrocel logo.jpgAgrocel

Mr. Shailesh Patel, Agrocel Industries Limited: Agrocel helps farmers move up the value chain by supporting them in building strong local and global market linkages and providing market access for their output. Our ethical, socially responsible business practices provide an exemplary model of agricultural business and farm service to local farmer organisations.

vardhman logoVardhman 1

Mr. S P Oswal, Vardhman Textiles Limited: Vardhman Group is a major integrated textile producer in India. Established in 1962 the group has since expanded enormously and our portfolio now includes manufacturing and marketing of yarns, fabrics, sewing thread, garments, fibre and alloy steel.

WHY BETTER COTTON?

AGR: The Agrocel Agriculture Service division focuses on activities related to the cultivation and marketing of Better Cotton and Organic/Fairtrade food and fibre. In this way we support sustainable livelihoods for small and marginal farmers. Our own ginning factory maintains very high standards of processing for Better Cotton fibre and we are the suppliers to leading spinning mills such as Vardhman.
VARD: We procure 5% of the total cotton consumption of the ‘Organised Mill’ sector in India. Since we are such a large buyer of cotton, our group philosophy has a strong inclination towards the responsible sourcing of our raw materials. We believe in the principles put forward by BCI and the focus on the social and environmental benefits to society. We are proud to be members of BCI.

HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH BETTER COTTON AND BCI?

AGR: We have been in the sustainable cotton business since 2001, and Agrocel has built a name for itself as a supplier of sustainable cotton. We were one of the first suppliers of Better Cotton bales in India.
VARD: In 2010, we were first approached by a few brands asking if we could supply Better Cotton yarn. From this beginning, we remained in close touch with the BCI team and became members shortly afterwards in 2011. We also advertise ourselves as suppliers of Better Cotton yarn and fabric in our brochures, which in turn helps us to identify new supply chain partners. Finally we take an active role at all conferences and meetings organised by BCI.

HOW DO YOU FIND AND PURCHASE BETTER COTTON?

AGR: We have been part of the Better Cotton project since 2010 and now have direct links to Better Cotton farmers. Our ginning factory is located close to where the farmers are, so we either collect cotton directly from the villages or farmers deliver cotton directly to our gin. Our gin exclusively collects Better Cotton so there is no challenge of segregating Better Cotton from conventional cotton on site.

 

VARD: In our first year as BCI members (2011-12), we did find there were some constraints for Better Cotton: there remained strong demand from customers but supply still needed to increase, and therefore there was a price difference between conventional cotton and Better Cotton generating a reluctance from brands to procure it.  But in 2013-14, BCI introduced the Mass Balance option in their traceability system, extending the traceability of Better Cotton to spinners and improving bulk availability of Better Cotton for retailers. Introducing the Better Cotton Claims Unit system helped to improve supply of Better Cotton at the same time as reducing price differences, resulting in improved demand.

WHY SHOULD OTHER COMPANIES BECOME BCI MEMBERS?

AGR: Being part of BCI is an opportunity to be a sustainable project partner with Better Cotton farmers, helping to create transparency in the supply chain.
VARD: Being responsible supply chain actors, we support sustainability. With no significant price difference between Better Cotton and conventional cotton we are now able to contribute to BCI’s goals and aims. BCI is also very clear on all its policies and systems for members to use. All supply chain actors should become BCI members.

WHAT DIFFERENCES HAVE BEEN MADE TO YOUR BUSINESS AFTER LEARNING ABOUT AND WORKING WITH THE BETTER COTTON STANDARD SYSTEM?

AGR: Working with the Better Cotton Standard has significantly influenced the working culture of our ginning mills, which in turn leads to better management.
VARD: We work with major brands and the demand for larger volumes of Better Cotton is increasing. Besides this increase in volume, we do feel that we are meeting our social responsibilities by sourcing Better Cotton, working towards BCI’s primary objective to make global production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE FOR BETTER COTTON?

AGR: We see the opportunity for more Better Cotton farmers and stakeholders in the future. We see positive results at farm level, and the opportunity for farmers to get training and implement the Better Cotton System in their fields. And we see many more brands using Better Cotton in their products to support Better Cotton projects in the field.
VARD: We foresee a bright future for BCI as farmers become better connected and Better Cotton is a win- win situation for all supply chain actors. Our business stake in cotton is very high, and with so many brands all associated with BCI we can confidently say that volumes will further increase in coming years.