Helping farmers survive and thrive is central to our mission at Better Cotton. Achieving that mission starts with strengthening the capacity of farmers on the ground to adopt more sustainable practices.
Our Capacity Strengthening Programme puts farmers and farm workers front and centre. We know that to create positive change and deepen the impact of our programme, we must ensure that farmers and farm workers have access to the necessary tools, training and support that they need to continuously improve their practices.
More than 2.9 million cotton farmers globally have already benefitted from Better Cotton field training. This training is delivered by Better Cotton Programme Partners in cotton-producing countries around the world. These experienced field-level partners teach the Principles and Criteria of the Better Cotton Standard System and provide farmers with the support they need to implement the standard effectively.
By investing in capacity strengthening upfront, rather than simply checking outcomes through certification, we can have greater confidence in the credible implementation of the Better Cotton Standard System. Upfront investment in capacity strengthening also has a significant impact on the percentage of participating farmers who go on to achieve a Better Cotton license.
In the 2021-22 cotton season, out of the 2.8 million farmers who received training, more than 2.2 million received a license to sell their cotton as Better Cotton. Beyond licensed Better Cotton Farmers, the Better Cotton programme reaches many more individuals in the wider farming community, including co-farmers, sharecroppers, business partners and permanent workers. We refer to this wider community as Farmers+.
Training and capacity strengthening
We support training and capacity strengthening through two routes — the Better Cotton Standard System and field-level investment and management.
Better Cotton Standard System | From the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria to monitoring mechanisms that show results and impact, the Better Cotton Standard System comprise all of the elements that make up our approach to sustainable cotton production. We manage and oversee the Better Cotton Standard System and are responsible for ensuring it is credible, accessible, delivers significant impact and reaches scale.
Field-level Investment | We set up the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund in 2016 to drive investments to Better Cotton Farmers and farming communities. The fund identifies, supports and invests in field-level programmes and innovations, mobilising contributions from Retailer and Brand Members, Programme Partners and public and private donors. For more information on how we fund capacity strengthening, see our finance and funding page.
Ensuring Credible Partnerships
We are only as effective as our ability to strengthen capacity at the farm level, which is why we have a strict process in place to ensure that our partner relationships are upholding the Better Cotton name and delivering the most possible value to farmers. The Better Cotton Implementation Team carries out several activities to that end.
There is a rigorous endorsement process for organisations who want to become Programme Partners to ensure that they are aligned with the Better Cotton mission.
Providing ongoing support
We regularly review Programme Partners’ performance and provide guidance as they train and support Better Cotton Farmers and farming communities.
Better Cotton operates a comprehensive train-the-trainer programme for Programme Partners on how to implement sustainable farming practices and grow Better Cotton.
Sharing knowledge between partners
We encourage and foster learning between Programme Partners through the sharing of best practices.
Better Cotton is a global programme, but local context and knowledge is key to our success. That’s why our Programme Partners develop locally adapted materials that provide farmers with clear instructions on how to grow Better Cotton in their unique environment and context. Tailoring support in this way allows us to directly address local challenges, from water scarcity in Tajikistan to pest pressure in India. We are using this material to create a catalogue of training materials in multiple languages that will enable Programme Partners to benefit from and support each other’s work.