Sustainable cotton farming is important because cotton production impacts freshwater resources in terms of water quantity through irrigation (use of surface and groundwater) and the use of rainwater stored in land. It also affects water quality through the application of agrochemicals (use of pesticides and fertilizers) and farm runoff.
The Better Cotton Principles and Criteria (P&C), developed by Better Cotton Initiative, assist farmers with sustainable cotton farming in a way that is measurably better for the environment and farming communities. The P&C provides rules and guidance to farmers participating in BCI programs on how to reach social and environmental sustainability objectives.
The P&C cover significant global issues associated with cotton cultivation and explain the intended outcomes achieved through their adoption. The P&C can be applied at a global level. They generally apply to farming areas used for the purpose of producing cotton within the geographic boundaries under the farmer’s responsibility. This means all areas within or adjacent to BCI certified cotton fields.
Standards such as the P&C contribute to increased farmer knowledge and skills, improved farming practices, and creation of a global community that shares best practice and encourages continuous improvement, which in turn contributes to enhanced water quality. Additionally, with appropriate management practices applied, farmers who use water efficiently (on both rain fed and irrigated systems farms) can achieve greater yields and consume and pollute less water.