Project: Better Cotton Initiative
Location: Kodinar (Gujarat), Marwa Mundwa (Rajasthan), Bathinda (Punjab), and Chandrapur (Maharashtra)Duration: 2010 - Ongoing
A life on the land is never easy. But when 33 year old Gopal Jambulwar took over the family farm from his father, he was confident that he could do better - earn more, grow more & learn more. He was wrong. His first few years trying his hand alone in cotton farming produced dismal results.
This is not an uncommon tale in India as many farmers across generations struggle to succeed in the cotton business. The increasing cost of cultivation often makes it an unviable business, the dependency on chemical pesticides is damaging to the soil and water resources, and labor scarcity sees farmers turning to child labor as a solution.
It was in 2010 that Better Cotton Initiative, an international not for profit membership organization, and ACF connected and found common ground - one was looking for farmers to educate, the other looking for ways to build the capacities of their farmers.
BCI focuses on effecting change: reducing the 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 programme, delivered through experienced implementing partners, to help farmers to adopt practices consistent with the Better Cotton principles and criteria. And ACF is one of the impelementing partners in India.
Implementng partners, such as ACF, are organizations working with cotton farmers & enabling them to grow and sell Better Cotton. As BCI does not train farmers directly, experienced and efficient implementing partners are crucial for the success of the Better Cotton Initiative.
In year one, ACF started the programme with 2552 farmers across 4 locations. Since then the project has seen exponential growth, and has now reached out to more than 1.75 lakh cotton growers in India
The results have been transformative. On an average, a BCI farmer easily earns 15% more profits in a year. These profits come from savings, from reduction in pesticides, fertilizers, water, enhanced production and improvement in quality.
Additionally, BCI licensed farmers produce cotton in a way that cares for the environment, minimizing the negative effects of fertilizers and pesticides, and caring for water, soil health and natural habitats. BCI Farmers also commit to decent work principles- conditions that support workers' safety and well-being.
Having completed 9 cotton growing seasons together, the future looks strong for BCI and ACF-with ACF being a part of the BCI Global Council and having a grand vision for the future of cotton farmers in India.
And Gopal? He too became a BCI Farmer, expanded his farming enterprise, shared his learning with other farmers in the community and was elected as the Sarpanch of his village! It seems he could succeed in cotton with a little help!
- Rs. 16.02 crore investment in BCI Programme to date
- Rs. 7.70 crore investment in BCI in 2018-19
- Impacting 1.2 lakh cotton farmers
- 12-15% increase in profits for BCI Farmers
- 2.07 lakh ha under better cotton initiative