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Pakistan farmers benefit from Better Cotton Initiative
Dec '12
Several cotton farmers in Pakistan have benefited from compliance of the best management practices propagated under the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a voluntary programme aimed at helping cotton farmers across the globe to grow healthier cotton.
Speaking at a seminar, BCI Regional Coordinator Dr. Shafiq Ahmad said the programme aims at trimming down the environmental impact of cotton production, ensuring better flow of good quality cotton across the supply chain, enhancing earnings of growers and ensuring economic growth in cotton cultivating areas.
The programme has helped more than 75,000 farmers in Pakistan who cultivated cotton on an area of 300,000 hectares this year to significantly cut their use of pesticides, fertilizers and water.
The use of pesticides reduced by 47 percent, that of fertilizers by 39 percent and water by 39 percent, which resulted in an 11 percent rise in their income as compared to the cultivators who are still sticking to the conventional methods, he said.
He added the farmers who participated in the programme are expected to reap around 80,000 metric tons of clean cotton this year. The country for the first time adopted the BCI principles in 2010-11.
The BCI official said that they look forward to bring over 90 percent of cotton growers in developing nations, who undertake cotton cultivation on area of less than two hectares, under the initiative.
Over half the pesticides used in these countries go in cotton production, he said, and added that if managed properly, cotton is a renewable resource. 
Apart from Pakistan, the initiative has also helped cotton cultivators in countries like India, Brazil, China and Mali.
He noted that besides exposure to pesticides, child labour and bonded labour are the main issues of concern for Pakistani cotton industry.
Agricultural expert Nawaz Bhatti said ecologically inefficient cultivation techniques resulting in soil degradation and water shortages as well as poor working conditions and excessive use of pesticides, which is detrimental for human health as well as environment, are the major challenges confronting cotton industry in Pakistan.
Mr. Bhatti said it is difficult to address these issues, as the country actually houses millions of cotton farmers, with many of them undertaking cultivation on small patches of land. For this reason, self compliance of BCI techniques by farmers is the best way out, he added.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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