Assurance Programme

The Better Cotton Assurance Programme is a key component of the Better Cotton Standard System. It involves farmers participating in a continuous cycle of learning and improvement and is the central mechanism for assessing whether farmers can be licensed to sell Better Cotton.

Farms are differentiated by three categories (Smallholders, Medium Farms and Large Farms) recognising the differences in production methods and workforces they use. To be licensed to grow Better Cotton, farmers must first comply with all Core Indicators in the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria v2.1 – including having a clear and time-bound Continuous Improvement Plan.

The Core Indicators ensure that Better Cotton meets clearly defined standards for pesticide use, water management, decent work, record keeping, training and other factors. To maintain their license, Producers are required, regardless of their initial level, to commit to adopting even more sustainable practices over time.

The BCI assurance model is unique in that it combines third-party verification with second-party assessments by BCI, support visits by Implementing Partners (IPs), and regular self-assessments by Producers themselves.

Please use the dropdown menus below to access additional information about the Better Cotton Assurance Programme, and to view guidance materials for Smallholders, Medium Farms and Large Farms.

For any enquiries please use our contact form.

For information about the assurance model changes, please refer to our FAQ.

Learn more about the Assurance Programme

The Better Cotton Assurance Programme has been revised to improve overall credibility and to enable Implementing Partners to focus more effort on continuous improvement and capacity building. The revised Assurance Model is now applicable to all Producers from the season 2020-21. An overview of these changes can be found in the document ‘BCI Summary of Assurance Revisions 2020’ below.

BCI Assurance Manual v4.1

BCI Summary of Assurance Revisions 2020

External Assessment Summary Season 2018-19

Assessment Guidance 2020 V1.2

Oversight Mechanism

Variations and Extension

The BCI Assurance Manual outlines, in Section 18, the specific cases and their deadlines where variations or extension requests can be submitted; such as variations request for licensing or extension of time to submit the Self-Assessment.

All requests for variations or extensions are to be submitted using this form by the Producer Unit or Large Farm Manager with clear rationale and supporting evidence where required. All variation and extension requests are decided on by the BCI Assurance Manager(s) and decisions will be communicated back to you within 5 working days of receiving the request.

The derogations process is to only be used in exceptional circumstances as outlined within the policy.

BCI Derogations Policy

BCI Derogations Request Form

BCI Active Derogation List

Appeals Process and Documents

BCI Appeals Procedure

Producer Units or Large Farms may appeal against a licensing decision by submitting a written application (along with objective evidence) within 10 working days of being informed of a license cancellation or denial.

The Appellant (i.e. Producer Unit Manager or Large Farm) must submit a completed Appeals Submission form found on the link below. All appeal submissions must:

1. Include a clear rationale for each separate non-conformity being appealed.

2. Include detailed supporting evidence for each non-conformity being appealed.

Appeal submissions are reviewed and decided by a selected set of members from BCI’s Appeals Committee. BCI aims to communicate final decisions to the Appellant within 35 calendar days of receiving an (eligible) appeals submission.

BCI Appeals Procedure

BCI Appeals Form for Producer Units

BCI Appeals Form for Large Farms

Appeals Committee Members 2020

Appeals Committee Terms of Reference


BCI Assurance Programme Planning for Covid-19

BCI’s Assurance Programme force majeure response to the Covid-19 pandemic is outlined here.

As the situation evolves, BCI will re-evaluate conditions in our countries of operation and review this document as necessary in line with the guiding principles; individually set out within the document.

Translated Assurance Documents

You can find the key assurance documents translated into Chinese, French and Portuguese.