Improving access to global cotton markets for farmers in Pakistan

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a global sustainability initiative which establishes global standards for cotton production that are more sustainable and positively impact on the lives of those in the supply chain. It does this by bringing together cotton’s complex supply chain, from farmers to retailers.

This partnership will support the training of an estimated 200,000 farmers in Pakistan so they can become part of the BCI, and access the growing global market for sustainably produced cotton. Cotton Australia is providing their expertise on the back of Australia’s recent accreditation under the BCI.

Progress update

January 2018

Good progress was made in the 2017 cotton season. While the number of farmers trained in the Better Cotton Standard System was slightly under target, the overall area planted and resulting yield was above target. A key success factor for the partnership was the technical support provided by Cotton Australia. This has resulted in technology transfer around Integrated Pest Management and other best practices that can be adapted for Pakistani farmers.

Key activities

  • In Pakistan overall, 288,930 farmers have received training in the Better Cotton Standard System (BCSS). Of these, 55,750 farmers were trained as result of the BPP initiative (just under target) which supports three sub-contracts with NGOs. 
  • The trained farmers planted 187,254 hectares of better cotton (above target) which yielded 820,526 metric tonnes of cotton (above target).
  • New field staff have also been trained and existing ones have received refresher training. This will improve the quality of the Better Cotton Initiative Assurance Program.
  • The Better Cotton Assurance Program was implemented and 92 per cent of farmers produced cotton which qualified for licensing as Better Cotton. The Better Cotton Assurance Program recorded farmer data and supported farmers by providing a Farmer Field Book for record keeping and learning purposes.
  • BCI and Cotton Australia organised a second meeting in August 2017 to discuss management and production practices in Australia and Pakistan. The meeting focused on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques and was attended by cotton farmers and representatives from BCI and Cotton Australia.

July 2017

In March 2017, the ‘Better Cotton Standard’ began at field level, with a total of 15 projects commencing in the Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan.  A knowledge exchange session between Pakistan and Cotton Australia representatives took place in June 2017 covering best practices on White Fly Management and Extension Services to an audience including farmers.

Key activities

  • Training has commenced for 288,921 farmers during the 2017-18 cotton season with 800,000 MT of Better Cotton production anticipated to be produced on 900,000 Hectares.
  • Farmers participated in a knowledge exchange session, with farmers learning new skills for treatment of White Fly.

Partnership aims

  • Better farm practices, lower farming costs, higher yields, better profits.
  • Supporting farmers to secure future business, particularly through access to a mainstream, responsible sourcing option for cotton.
  • Improved environment management.


Private sector funding


DFAT funding


Total Value



Start: March 2017

End: March 2018

Industry sector



Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world but currently has little access to the growing, high value, sustainable cotton market. This partnership will support the training of an estimated 200,000 farmers in Pakistan so they can become BCI accredited, opening up a huge opportunity for farmers to be engaged in safer, more sustainable farming operations and with a product that is growing in demand.

Shared value

Shared value is defined as policies and practices that enhance the competitiveness of companies while improving social and environmental conditions in the regions where they operate. It is a business strategy focused on companies creating measurable economic benefit by identifying and addressing social problems that intersect with their business. To qualify as shared value, there must be an identifiable economic benefit to the company as well as measurable impact on a social or environmental issue.

The BPP is helping businesses partner with the Australian aid program in achieving shared value – advancing both social and economic objectives. These partnerships are primarily being created in one or more of the following ways:

  • Reconceiving products and/or markets
  • Redefining productivity in the value chain
  • Enabling local cluster development
BCI cotton bales in Pakistan

Redefining productivity in the value-chain

Using BCI methodologies, farmers achieve higher yields and more financial security through access to global markets, while improving the working conditions in their fields. Early results in Pakistan reveal that farmers who have applied BCI’s methodology earned approximately 46% more profit than similar farmer groups not using the BCI practice.

BCI cotton bales being loaded in Pakistan

Enabling local cluster development

A key part of BCI’s vision is to engage with national governments, local trade associations and local producer groups, enabling these parties to adopt BCI’s operating practices as their own. BCI will continue to work with these partners to ensure continuity and oversight of the programme as local entities assume the leadership role in operations.

Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

In 2015, a new indicator on inclusion of women was included to help BCI measure the number of women attending training as well as guide BCI in developing future indicators to strengthen its data on gender. Training is intended to empower women and enable them to be more knowledgeable about their employment rights. Indicators on inclusion of women will be published annually.

Partner information

The partnership is between Better Cotton Initiative, Cotton Australia and DFAT.

Better Cotton Initiative

BCI cotton farmer in Pakistan  

BCI logo 

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a not-for-profit organisation which establishes global standards and brings together cotton’s complex supply chain, from the farmers to the retailers. BCI exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future, by developing ‘Better Cotton’ (or BCI cotton) as a sustainable mainstream commodity. With Pakistan being the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world, this partnership will support the expansion of a training program to reach more cotton farmers.

Cotton Australia

Man in cotton field  

Cotton Australia 

Cotton Australia is a not-for-profit company, and the peak representative body for Australia's cotton growers. As world leaders in sustainable cotton production, Cotton Australia is aware that its industry has extensive best practice information, experience, tools and knowledge it can share – and are looking to deploy this effectively through the partnership. Cotton Australia, as a member of BCI, will play a role supporting and providing best practice cotton production information through BCI training to cotton farmers in Pakistan.

Last Updated: 30 January 2018