August 9, 2022

Partnership Summary: Expanding Sustainable Cotton Production in Pakistan

In Pakistan, a partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative, a not-for-profit organisation which establishes global standards and brings together cotton’s complex supply chain; Cotton Australia, Australia’s peak representative body for cotton growers; IDH, a sustainable trade initiative; and the Australian Government supported the training of cotton farmers in Pakistan to become licensed Better Cotton growers. Cotton grown by Better Cotton farmers is more sustainably grown, higher quality and promotes decent work. 

About the Initiative 

Pakistan is the world’s fourth largest producer of cotton, with an estimated 1.5 million cotton farmers. This partnership supported the training of cotton farmers in Pakistan to become part of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), to access the growing market for sustainably produced cotton. 

BCI was founded with the specific goal of addressing the most pressing sustainability issues in cotton cultivation globally, including pesticide use, water efficiency, and social concerns such as gender inequity and child labour in some countries. BCI farmers minimise the harmful impact of crop protection practices, promote water stewardship, care for the health of the soil, enhance biodiversity and responsible land use, care for and preserve fiber quality, and promote decent work. 


  • Thousands of farmers supported: The BPP partnership helped BCI scale its impact in Pakistan, supporting the training of hundreds of thousands of farmers to become Better Cotton producers and access a higher price for their cotton.
  • Knowledge exchanged: The partnership also facilitated increased knowledge exchange between Pakistan and Australia, including regular contact between Cotton Australia and BCI Pakistan, and a study tour. Additionally, a help desk was established during COVID-19 giving farmers access to a master Agronomist via WhatsApp and online, and supported farmers during the restrictions on movement.
  • Gender strategy developed: BPP also provided support on gender and helped spur BCI’s global gender strategy. The strategy ensures more gender-sensitive and inclusive field-level implementation activities.
  • Climate impacts: Better Cotton accredited farmers use 15% less pesticide, 19% less synthetic fertilizer, 18% less water and 87% more organic fertilizer than an average cotton farmer.  

Project highlights: Study Tour 

The partnership facilitated a knowledge sharing study tour for a delegation of BCI staff and farmers from Pakistan to visit cotton fields and research facilities in different areas of Queensland and New South Wales. The visit shared in-depth explanations of best practice and engaged the best scientists to give an overview of the pioneering research being carried out. The delegation was also introduced to cotton retailers and brands. The study tour gave the delegates tangible and practical insights and knowledge to take back to their farms in Pakistan. 

“We were able to visit Australia to learn how the Australian cotton growers can achieve some of the highest crop yields in the world, and at the same time reduce their pesticide and other input usages to a very low level.”
– Bilal Khan, cotton grower and member of the Better Cotton Initiative. 

What’s next? 

  • BCI will continue to build farmer capacity building in Pakistan as part it’s 2030 strategy. 
  • Digital learning material developed with the support of the Australian Government will be available on a digital learning management system to supplement training to field facilitators. All material will be made available to BCI implementing partners, to ensure that all field facilitators have a uniform understanding of the BCI program and can provide farmers with the necessary support at field level. 
  • The Fund is considering new partnerships to support 100,000 women in cotton production and improve their access to knowledge and training. 

View the partnership summary below or download here.

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