ACF recently celebrated the news of Jitesh Joshi being selected as the 'Project Unit Manager of the Year' by Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) - BCGIF - Managed by IDH and has been invited to present his work on conservation of biodiversity at the Implementing Partners Meeting and Symposium in Cambodia in January 2020.
Working as a PU Coordinator, Jitesh has been with ACF since 2012 in Kodinar, Gujarat and has established a Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) of 1880 farmers which has significantly contributed to the socio-economic development of the surrounding communities. His current projects focus on setting up a crop rotation with groundnuts (a more natural enemy-friendly crop which also fixes Nitrogen); creating market linkages for BCI farmers; and facilitating fair trade certification for groundnut farmers. He is the only PU Manager in India so far who has been able to eradicate Monocrotophos, an organophosphate insecticide that is acutely toxic to birds and humans which is solely based on the effort of the Project Unit.
On biodiversity, Jitesh has trained farmers to adopt crop rotation and on how to protect natural enemies of pests. He has worked on the eradication of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) and has promoted the use of bio pesticides and bio control methods. He also promoted agro-forestry and social forestry with native trees species and with focus on creating and maintaining additional habitats for vulnerable bird species. Through trainings, he has gained significant knowledge on biodiversity mapping and has been supporting his and other PU teams in conducting mapping; and subsequently prepared effective and actionable biodiversity management plans.
"I am extremely grateful to BCI for appreciating my work and giving me the opportunity to showcase it. I will continue to be committed towards my work and hope to learn more through the BCI projects" said Jitesh.
The BCI India Team unanimously agreed that no other PU manager of BCI deserves to be recognized other than Jitesh and the organizing committee were extremely contented with their decision. The BCI Annual Implementing Partner Meeting and Symposium is an event for its implementing strategic & local partners to learn and interact around BCI's latest field and standard developments including an opportunity to showcase best practices.
BCI focuses on reducing environmental impact of cotton production and improving the livelihoods of cotton farmers through the production of Better Cotton. To achieve this change, BCI coordinates a capacity building program delivered by experienced implementing partners. And ACF is one of the implementing partners in India. ACF started the program with 2552 farmers across 4 locations. Since then the project has seen exponential growth and in the cropping season of 2018, ACF reached out to 1.21 lakh cotton farmers in India. Having completed 9 cotton growing seasons together, the future looks strong for BCI & ACF - with ACF being a part of the BCI Global Council and having a grand vision for the future of cotton farmers in India.