Better Cotton said the move is in line with its focus on protecting and restoring the environment, in particular through the reduction of synthetic pesticides in cotton farming.

“Pesticides, and in particular Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), can cause harm to both people and the environment,” Gregory Jean, standards and learning manager at Better Cotton explained. “Moreover, the overuse of pesticides can disrupt populations of beneficial insects – natural defences against pests – and increase pesticide resistance. This in turn can cause a vicious cycle which leads to even more pesticide usage.”

In line with its 2030 strategy to reduce the use and risk of synthetic pesticides applied by Better Cotton Farmers and workers by at least 50% by the end of the decade, Better Cotton is supporting farmers in adopting an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to crop protection.

Integrated Pest Management is an approach which emphasises the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agroecosystems. IPM doesn’t prohibit pesticides completely, but it focuses first on the prevention of pest pressures and then regular, careful monitoring of pest populations. When pest numbers are high enough that control measures are necessary, non-chemical methods such as biopesticides or traps are the first choice, with conventional pesticides used as a last resort.  

“Adopting an IPM approach not only produces environmental benefits but can also help farmers reduce input costs and increase profits. Integrated Pest Management practices have already supported Better Cotton Farmers in India in reducing pesticide use – as demonstrated in our recent India Impact Report, overall pesticide use reduced by 53% from the 2014-17 cotton seasons to the 2021/22 season,” Jean said.

Better Cotton is currently developing an IPM planning and monitoring framework. This framework will support cotton farmers, associations, extension agents and organisations that are working to foster the adoption of better farming practices in Better Cotton programmes. The framework will be used to:  

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  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in current IPM practice  
  • Plan activities to promote innovative IPM techniques and increase their adoption 
  • Monitor the uptake and efficiency of IPM practice adoption and implementation 
  • Provide a common understanding of IPM best practice and a framework for improvement.

Pilot projects for the IPM framework are being trialled in India, Pakistan and Mozambique. These pilots aim to:  

  • Adapt the IPM practices under the framework to local contexts through collaboration between IPM experts and partners participating in pilot projects 
  • Identify gaps in capacity-strengthening and data management activities to support progress against the framework 
  • Develop a reporting mechanism to monitor progress on IPM uptake for analysis and reporting in countries. 

Once these pilots come to a close and the adaptation and testing of the IPM framework is complete, the results will be presented to other countries. The framework will then be scaled up from next season onwards, with Better Cotton providing support to partners during this process.

Last month (November) Better Cotton along with Chad’s sole aggregator and exporter of cotton, CotontChad, and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), discussed launching a new Better Cotton programme in the region.