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Better Cotton to Reinforce Partnership With Tajikistan

The world’s largest cotton certifier Better Cotton wants to strengthen its ties with the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan. To this effect, the cotton sustainability initiative has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tajikistan’s ministry of agriculture to reinforce the partnership and support the production of more sustainable cotton across the country. Goals are the improvement of the quality of cotton fibre, farmer wellbeing and overall agricultural sustainability.

Common challenges are water scarcity, especially in the summer when temperatures regularly exceed 30 degrees Celsius, poor working conditions and gender inequality. “Many farmers in the country struggle to ensure contracts and safe working conditions for seasonal cotton pickers, and even though female farmers make up a large proportion of the farming workforce, they are typically unable to own farms,” explains Better Cotton on its website.

Roadmap to more sustainable cotton production

To achieve this, the MoU establishes that Better Cotton and the ministry will develop a strategic roadmap for more sustainable cotton production in Tajikistan, according to the Better Cotton Standard System, and considering the requirements of the global market.

The collaboration will see both parties conduct outreach and awareness activities across the country to promote the benefits of more sustainable growing practices, while the adoption of practical innovations will be explored to determine how domestic farmers can improve.

Better Cotton will also work with the ministry to identify new sources of funding and investment that can unlock new opportunities across the country’s cotton sector, which is still relatively unknown in the global cotton market.

The MoU was signed by Better Cotton’s director of fundraising, Rebecca Owen, and Tajikistan’s minister of agriculture Qurbon Khakimzoda, at the Tajikistan Investment and Development Forum in London last week.

“This MoU is the start of a strategic roadmap to expand sustainable cotton production in Tajikistan – creating opportunities to improve the livelihoods, well-being and market access for cotton farming communities,” said Owen in a press release.

Tajikistan is the first country in Central Asia to work with the Better Cotton Initiative, which it joined in 2013 with just 360 farmers. In 2014, the cooperative of agronomists Sarob became BCI’s implementing partner, developing and implementing more sustainable, water-efficient farming practices like precision irrigation and soil moisture testing, securing funding and strengthening and scaling the programme in Tajikistan.

Today, it includes more than 1,000 licensed farmers and yields 14,000 tonnes of Better Cotton and the same amount of hectares harvested. In the 2019-2020 cotton season, synthetic fertiliser use among Better Cotton farmers was 62 percent lower than that of comparison farmers, while yields were 1 percent higher.

Source : FashionUnited