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Better Cotton says the partnership will be formalised through the signing of an agreement and marked by a multistakeholder event in Seville, Spain to bring together local cotton farmers, ginners, industry representatives and the Interprofessional Cotton Association (Espalgodon) and Regional Government of Andalucia.

Espalgodon, which is a coalition of three Spanish agricultural organisations, represents all cotton farmers in the country, which are projected to produce around 64,000 tonnes of cotton during the 2023/24 season.

The coalition’s declaration of interest in 2021 underscored its domestic eagerness to collaborate in the production of more sustainable cotton.

Better Cotton has since worked with the Regional Government of Andalucia, which is Spain’s main cotton-growing region, to recognise its Integrated Production System (IPS) as equivalent to the Better Cotton Standard System (BCSS).

In practical terms, Better Cotton explains this recognition allows cotton produced on IPS-licensed farms to be marketed as ‘Better Cotton’.

Better Cotton notes the 2023/24 cotton season is projected to experience a production decrease of over 48% compared to the previous season, due to crop development challenges exacerbated by drought conditions.

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Better Cotton explains the partnership’s alignment with Spain’s cotton sector organisations will allow it to use existing networks and local expertise while avoiding duplication. In return, local cotton farmers gain the assurance that their product complies with the widely recognised Better Cotton Standard System.

Better Cotton CEO Alan McClay comments: “The impacts of climate change on Spain’s cotton crop are plain to see from the country’s projections for the 2023/24 cotton season.

“Espalgodon and the Regional Government of Andalucia have demonstrated their dedication to enhancing the sustainability of domestically grown cotton, thereby bolstering the resilience of local farmers in the face of global warming.”

As part of the new country start-up process, Better Cotton engaged third-party services provider PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to complete a benchmarking report. This identified gaps between the two systems and outlined the necessary actions to achieve alignment.

Last week Better and its partners in the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Coalition demanded a global phase-out of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) across agricultural supply chains.

In early September Better Cotton also revealed a reduction in pesticide and water use in its 2023 India Impact Report as well as improvements to the livelihoods of farmers based in the region.

Chemical and agricultural solutions developer BASF invited global cotton farmers to the United Nation’s (UN) headquarters on 18 September to discuss how to create a better future for sustainable cotton production and the cotton textile industry.