ISLAMABAD: The Australian government, Cotton Australia and Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) have together launched a partnership to support the training of approximately 225,000 Pakistani cotton farmers commencing with the 2017 cotton-sowing season.
“This partnership will deliver practical tools and latest environmental and cutting-edge management practices aligned with internationally recognised quality assurance for sustainable cotton production,” said the Australian High Commission in a statement on Thursday.
The farmers will be trained in techniques for growing cotton with focus on improved environmental, social and economic benefits in line with the Better Cotton Standard System.
Cotton is an important export earner for Pakistan – the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world. The partnership has been established to support Pakistan’s ability to compete in premium international cotton markets.
The Australian government has committed AUD500,000 to this project, which will be supported through the Australian aid programme’s Business Partnerships Platform.
Australia’s contribution will be matched by AUD2.4m from the BCI Growth and Innovation Fund. The matching funds come from the BCI Retailer and Brand members, such as Adidas, IKEA, H&M, Levi Strauss & Co, Marks & Spencer, Cotton On, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Tommy Hilfiger and Nike.
BCI Chief Operating Officer Lena Staafgard noted that the partnership represented an important step forward for the BCI in promoting cross-learning between cotton growing countries.
“This collaboration will deliver tangible value to cotton farmers in Pakistan as they gain access to the vast body of deep knowledge on good agricultural practices held by Cotton Australia (a body of Australia’s cotton growing industry) as well as being able to participate in BCI training programmes to promote more sustainable farming practices.
“At BCI, we’re excited to be able to link up our partners across the world, with the aim of benefitting the global cotton sector.”
Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Margaret Adamson welcomed the launch. “The partnership will work closely with Cotton Australia and Australian cotton farmers who will share their world-leading practices, skills and experience with farmers in Pakistan. By promoting Australian cotton practices, we will aim to help improve the global reputation of Pakistan cotton, safeguarding cotton’s future in Pakistan,” she said.
Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay said, “Australian cotton farmers are happy to share knowledge and experience to assist other cotton producers (in this case Pakistani) improve their sustainability as this gives brands and retailers the confidence to use cotton in their products. More and more global brands and retailers only want to source cotton that has been responsibly produced.”