There is improved profitability and positive environmental impact for Better Cotton farmers in India, as per a study by Better Cotton on the impact of the Better Cotton programme in India, conducted by Wageningen University and Research between 2019 and 2022. Wageningen University is a globally important centre for life sciences and agricultural research.
Through this impact report, Better Cotton seeks to analyse the effectiveness of its programmes. The survey demonstrates the clear added value for profitability and environmental protections in the development of a more sustainable cotton sector.
The study, ‘Towards more sustainable cotton farming in India’, explores how cotton farmers who implemented Better Cotton recommended agricultural practices achieved improvements in profitability, reduced synthetic input use, and overall sustainability in farming, Better Cotton said in a press release.
The study examined farmers in the Indian regions of Maharashtra (Nagpur) and Telangana (Adilabad), and compared the results with farmers in the same areas who did not follow Better Cotton guidance.
Better Cotton works with Programme Partners at farm level to enable farmers to adopt more sustainable practices, for example, better managing pesticides and fertilisers.
It found that Better Cotton Farmers were able to reduce costs, improve overall profitability, and safeguard the environment more effectively, compared with non-Better Cotton Farmers.
Overall, Better Cotton farmers decreased their costs for synthetic insecticide by almost 75 per cent, a notable decrease compared to non-Better Cotton Farmers. On an average, Better Cotton Farmers in Adilabad and Nagpur saved $44 per farmer during the season on synthetic insecticides and herbicides expenses during the season, significantly reducing their costs and their environmental impact.
Better Cotton Farmers in Nagpur received around $0.135/kg more for their cotton than non-Better Cotton Farmers, the equivalent of a 13 per cent price increase. Overall, Better Cotton contributed to an increase in farmers’ seasonal profitability of $82 per acre, equivalent to about $500 income for an average cotton farmer in Nagpur.
For the baseline, the researchers surveyed 1,360 farmers. The majority of farmers involved were middle-aged, literate smallholders, who use most of their land for agriculture, with around 80 per cent used for cotton farming.
“Better Cotton strives to ensure that cotton production is more sustainable. It’s important that farmers see improvements to their livelihoods, which will incentivise more farmers to adopt climate resilient agricultural practices. Studies like these show us that sustainability pays off, not just for reducing environmental impact, but also in overall profitability for farmers. We can take the learnings from this study and apply it in other cotton-growing regions,” Better Cotton CEO, Alan McClay said.