Baseline Study and Final Evaluation of GIF Multi-Year Funded Projects

Better Cotton Growth & Innovation Fund (Better Cotton GIF) was established in 2016 to transform cotton production globally and develop Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity. This year GIF has awarded four programme partners (or IPs), two each in India and Pakistan, multi-year project (MYP) grants. The purpose of this assignment is to evaluate the effectiveness of these four projects.

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Sustainable Cotton and Coffee Standards Seek to Align Impact Measurement and Reporting

There are many sustainability standards and public-sector initiatives that promote and drive sustainability within commodity sectors. However, there is no alignment on how data is collected and reported, which makes it difficult to have a clear view on the collective ability of these programmes to progress towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on a global scale.

As the sustainability standards and initiatives increasingly focus on reliable data and credible reporting, more information is being required from producers on their environmental, social and economic performance. This leads to data collection becoming more time consuming and costly, while not necessarily adding any value for producers.

To bridge these gaps and improve efficiency, the Delta Project was developed to align the measurement and reporting on sustainability performance at farm level across sustainability standards and commodities. The project is a collaboration between the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), the Global Coffee Platform (GCP), the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) and the International Coffee Association (ICO). It is funded by the ISEAL Innovation Fund.

The Delta Project will ultimately lead to the creation of the “Delta Framework’ which aims to build a common approach and language for sustainability reporting that is linked to SDG targets,” says Eliane Augareils, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at BCI.

The framework will feature a common set of environmental, social, and economic indicators to measure sustainability across the cotton and coffee commodity sectors, though the number of indicators will be limited to ensure that the framework remains manageable for companies and governments. The project will also provide examples of good and bad practices; tools and information to facilitate the framework’s adoption; and recommendations on how companies can communicate sustainability information to their customers.

Coffee and cotton farmers will also be able to use the information produced for the framework to track their own progress, compare their performance to their peers and access more resources and data to develop better insights,” says Andreas Terhaer, Manager IT & Processes at GCP.

Standardising a framework and making it adaptable to a range of commodities will also foster the development of a common language for sustainability in agriculture and make it easier to collect and compare data. The results are expected to improve the quality of support and services farmers receive in the future, including better financing terms and more favourable government policies that promote sustainability in the agricultural sector.

While the Delta Project currently focuses on two commodities, cotton and coffee, it is being designed to allow for further expansion. We’re really excited about its potential application to cocoa, soy, palm oil, sugar, and other commodity sectors in the future,”saysNorma Tregurtha,Policy and Outreach Director at ISEAL.

Learn more about the Delta Project.

The project is possible thanks to a grant from the ISEAL Innovations Fund, which is supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO.

Left:© BCI / Paulo Escudeiro | BCI farm worker |Niassa Province, Mozambique, 2018.
Right:© Global Cotton Platform, 2019

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Better Cotton Farmers Achieve a Reduction in Water and Pesticide Use while Increasing Yields and Profits

BCI Farmers Demonstrate the Benefits of Implementing more Sustainable Farming Practices

In the 2017-18 cotton season*, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and its on-the-ground partners provided training on more sustainable farming practices to more than two million cotton farmers in 21 countries. Through training, tools and capacity building, BCI Farmers address and tackle pertinent issues in cotton production, from water use to pest management to Decent Work. By implementing the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria, farmers produce cotton in a way that is measurably better for themselves, the environment and farming communities.

Each cotton season, BCI and its partners collect data from BCI Farmers to monitor and assess a range of social, environmental and economic indicators. BCI Farmer results from the 2017-18 cotton season clearly demonstrate the benefits of implementing more sustainable practices around the world.Here are some key highlights from China, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkey.


  • In Turkey, 74% of BCI Farmers had advanced awareness of child labour issues.
  • In Tajikistan, 25% of BCI Farmers trained on health and safety practices were women.


  • BCI Farmers in India used 10% less water than comparison farmers.
  • BCI Farmers in Pakistan used 17% less synthetic fertiliser than comparison farmers.
  • BCI Farmers in Tajikistan used 40% fewer pesticides than comparison farmers.


  • BCI Farmers in China achieved 14% higher yields than comparison farmers.
  • BCI Farmers in Pakistan achieved 40% higher profits than comparison farmers.

Access the2017-18 BCI Farmer Results to see how BCI is driving measurable improvements in cotton production.

Note about Comparison Farmers: BCI Farmer Results compare the country averages of key social, environmental and economic indicators achieved by licensed BCI Farmers to non-BCI farmers in the same geographic area who are not participating in the BCI programme. We refer to the latter farmers as Comparison Farmers.

*Cotton is sown and harvested in different annual cycles all over the world. For BCI, the 2017-18 cotton season harvest was completed towards the end of 2018. BCI Farmer results indicator data must be submitted to BCI within 12 weeks of the cotton harvest. All data then goes through a rigorous data cleaning and validation process before it can be published.

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Sustainable Cotton Production Reaches New Levels as Two Million Farmers Receive Training on Improved Farming Practices

Today, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) revealed in its 2018 Annual Report that Better Cotton – cotton produced in line with the initiative’s Better Cotton Principles and Criteria – now accounts for 19% of global cotton production*.

In the 2017-18 cotton season, together with our 69 on-the-ground partners and with support from 1,4000 members, BCI provided training on sustainable agricultural practices to more than two million cotton farmers in 21 countries(more than 99% of BCI Farmers are smallholders, farming on less than 20 hectares of land). This drove the volume of more sustainably produced cotton available on the global market to a new level.

By 2020, BCI aims to support 5 million cotton farmers in adopting more sustainable agricultural practices and improving their livelihoods. To do this, we focus on the diverse social, environmental and economic challenges faced by cotton farmers around the world, from drought in Australia to flooding in China and gender equality in Pakistan.

Our comprehensive programme of training, practical demonstrations and knowledge-sharing helps farmers to raise their yields, reduce their impacts on the environment and improve working conditions. We address multiple environmental issues – from soil health and pesticide use to water stewardship – and raise awareness of the importance of Decent Work, focusing in particular on promoting women’s empowerment and preventing child labour,” says Alan McClay, CEO at BCI.

At the opposite end of the supply chain, BCI’s Retailer and Brand Members such as Hennes & Mauritz AB, IKEA Supply AG, Gap Inc., adidas AG, and Nike Inc.passed an important milestoneat the end of 2018, sourcing more than one million metric tonnes of Better Cotton– a record for BCI. That’s a 45% increase on 2017 and sends a clear signal to the market that Better Cotton is becoming a sustainable mainstream commodity.BCI’s demand-driven funding model means that retailer and brand sourcing of Better Cotton directly translates into increased investment in training for cotton farmers on more sustainable practices.

Better Cotton uptake now accounts for 4% of global cotton consumption.This progress has moved BCI closer to our2020 target to see 10% of global cotton sourced as Better Cotton.

This historic level of Better Cotton uptake is an encouraging indicator of how well BCI is progressing toward our five 2020 targets,” says McClay.

Back in 2012, the BCI Council laid down a formidable challenge to all BCI Members, Partners, stakeholders and staff with the publication of five ambitious targets for 2020. The BCI Council asked us to demonstrate that multiple stakeholders, working together, can shift a global system so that sustainability becomes the mainstream. In the BCI 2018 Annual Report, we share the progress we’ve collectively made towards achieving these five targets.

Explore the complete BCI 2018 Annual Report on the interactive reportmicrosite. A PDF version is available for download.

Thank you to all of our committed stakeholders, who, by supporting and participating in BCI, are developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity and driving change.

*The percentage has been calculated using ICAC’s 2018 global production figures.

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