Large farms play a key role in the cotton sector. While the majority of global cotton farmers are smallholders, producing 75% of the 25 million metric tonnes of global cotton production annually*, large farmers continue to contribute significantly to more sustainable cotton production. Notably in Brazil, large farms produced the largest volume of Better Cotton in the 2019-20 season, growing over 2.3 million metric tonnes or over 37% of the total Better Cotton produced globally.

While growing cotton at scale, the impacts of growing cotton more sustainably are amplified, especially around climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration. As Better Cotton aims to transform the cotton sector, including all key players in the cotton sector is important. Learn more about how Better Cotton is exploring the landscape approach to strengthen impact.

What is the difference between smallholders, medium farms and large farms?

Smallholders: Farmers who are not structurally dependent on permanent hired labour, and whose farm size does not exceed 20 ha of cotton.

Medium Farms: Farmers who are structurally dependent on permanent hired labour, and whose farm size is between 20 to 200 ha of cotton.

Large Farms: Farmers who have a farm size above 200 ha of cotton, and either have mechanised production, or are structurally dependent on permanent hired labour.

Better Cotton also recognises that due to the scale of production and resources, large farms can be a nest of technological innovation in areas such as reducing water consumption. One example is the use of soil moisture probes that indicate when irrigation is required and can be monitored and managed through mobile apps. Remote monitoring of vast field conditions is worthwhile for farmlands that can spread across 200 hectares of land, but these best practices on large farms also create the opportunity for replication in other contexts and countries. Better Cotton provides a framework to assess the sustainability of large farms to adopt more sustainable practices and the platform to collaborate across farming communities to catalyse change.

Photo credit: Cotton Australia

On 11 August 2021, Better Cotton hosted the first Better Cotton Large Farm Symposium to drive impact through collaboration. The online event gathered around 100 participants from 11 cotton growing countries and organisations—Australia, Brazil, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mozambique, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey, the United States, GIZ, IFC and Better Cotton. The symposium brought large farms together to promote knowledge sharing on common best practices that are specific to large scale cotton production. In spite of technical difficulties, virtual interactions enabled partners from Israel, Australia, Brazil, the US and Turkey to share on pest management and biodiversity practices, followed by small group discussions.

The Symposium created momentum for strengthening Better Cotton ’s community of practice on large scale cotton production. The presentations and final report will be soon available to participants and relevant partners.

Engaging with all our partners is crucial for Better Cotton to strengthen its position within the sector and to be increasingly recognised as a reliable actor to transform the way in which cotton is produced worldwide. Learn more about Better Cotton Partnerships.

Find a more detailed summary of event highlights and access presentations through the 2021 Better Cotton Large Farm Symposium – Summary Report below:

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2021 Better Cotton Large Farm Symposium – Summary Report



Updated 27 October 2021 to include most recent version of 2021 Better Cotton Large Farm Symposium – Summary Report

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