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Better Cotton in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a primarily agricultural economy, with 24% of the population employed in agriculture. It’s also the world’s most northerly cotton-growing country.

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The country has more land than its Central Asian neighbours, yet grows comparatively less cotton, with farmers focusing largely on food crops such as grains. Temperatures in Southern and South-eastern Kazakhstan are best for cotton production. Most farms (70%) in these regions are run by families, and smallholders account for an estimated 95% of total cotton production.

Better Cotton Partner in Kazakhstan

Louis Dreyfus Company has been Better Cotton’s Implementing Partner in Kazakhstan since 2016 and a Better Cotton Member since 2012. The agricultural commodity trader collaborated with us to establish a Better Cotton programme in the country in response to rising demand for Better Cotton from Kazakhstan.

To further support the country’s Better Cotton Farmers, Louis Dreyfus Company is seeking additional funding for training projects, while also supporting the country’s cotton future by supporting research into more climate-resilient cotton varieties.

Sustainability challenges

Cotton farmers in Kazakhstan face harsh climate conditions, with high temperatures and scarce water supplies. This lack of water, combined with poor soil health and pest pressure, makes for tough growing conditions. Louis Dreyfus Company helps farmers address these challenges by adopting simple, affordable techniques to improve soil health.

For example, farmers learn to analyse the soil samples to understand when to apply fertilisers and how much to use. Better Cotton Farmers also take a precision approach to fighting pests. With the help of our Implementing Partner, they’ve made considerable progress, monitoring pest numbers and only applying pesticides when they reach a certain threshold. In both cases, and where budget allows, they invest in biological fertilisers and pesticides that are kinder to the earth.

To help overcome their shared challenges and buy inputs in a more cost-effective way, the Kazakhstan government is encouraging farmers to work together in large cooperatives. However, with many smallholders used to traditional ways of farming, they are wary of changing their ways and the risk of potentially buying more expensive products. Enabling farmers to see the benefits of sustainable practices for themselves will be vital to encouraging this transition.

Find out more about the outcomes farmers are experiencing by participating in the Better Cotton programme in our latest Farmer Results Report.

Get in touch

Contact our team via the contact form if you’d like to learn more, become a partner or you’re a farmer interested in farming Better Cotton.