BCI Brings Good Health To Pakistan’s Cotton Farmers

Better Cotton Initiative’s work in Pakistan is turning up results at the ground level. Simple ways to protect people working in cotton fields seem to be touching a chord as men and women learn to minimize the impact of pesticides. And the learning has come from training programs being organized by Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) which has companies such as Ikea and H&M as its commercial partners while the training is organized by WWF, Oxfam and local civil society organizations in Pakistan. BCI is a global programme made up of producers, international retailers and not-for-profit groups.
There are currently 3 BCI projects working towards growing Better Cotton in Pakistan. WWF Pakistan is BCI implementing partner in Pakistan.
Writing from Bahawalpur for the Guardian Weekly, Rina Saheed Khan says that in the past five years, WWF- Pakistan and its local partner, the Kissan Welfare Association (KWA), have conducted hundreds of training sessions, known as farmer field schools, for small farmers in the area. The report says that since the field schools were launched six years ago, farmers have reduced water and pesticide use by 75 per cent while increasing their revenue by 70 per cent due to a combination of savings on lower use of pesticides and fertilizers and better growing practices.
What started as a small NGO project run by WWF-Pakistan has now become a successful business model. By December 2011, almost 50,000 metric tonnes of cotton had been grown and processed in accordance with BCI standards.

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