LAUNCH Textiles

Ruchira Joshi: Better Cotton Initiative

Better Cotton Initiative

BCI is a multi-stakeholder initiative with a mission to improve global cotton production and develop a new mainstream commodity, Better Cotton.


After some 20 years of implementation, cotton certification schemes have not been able to break above 5% of global cotton production. Of the estimated 50 million cotton farmers worldwide, more than 90% are smallholders, often living in poverty and under environmental stress. With cotton frequently being the only means to earn an income, a new solution to scale up improvements to farmer livelihoods and reduce environmental stress is required.


BCI has developed the first components of a global traceability system and investment model. It is a holistic approach to more sustainable cotton production, based on a voluntary standard for improvement, which can be implemented in a mainstream way on a global scale. An innovative funding and traceability system secures support to farmers for implementation of the program while avoiding trading premiums.


The supply chain consists of a global web of hundreds of thousands of actors operating in a volatile and low-trust sector. The Better Cotton Traceability System will help reduce risk and uncertainty. The anticipated impact in the longer term, reflecting the global nature of BCI’s scope, is significant – BCI aims to work with 5 million farmers by 2020, producing 30% of the annual global cotton production. Impact will happen at farm level (in terms of environmental, social and economic benefits).