The project trains farmers in sustainable agricultural practices to improve cotton production and smallholders’ livelihoods.
GURGAON, India, 15 November 2018 – Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) has partnered with the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund, powered by the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), and Indian cotton ginner Puneet Enterprises, on a new cotton sustainability project in the state of Maharashtra.
Running from May 2018 to March 2019, the project supports some 10,000 smallholder cotton farmers in the districts of Aurangabad and Jalgaon by sharing sustainable agricultural practices in accordance with Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) principles. In so doing, the project aims to help alleviate or address some of the social, economic and climatic challenges of cotton production, such as dependence on credit, unpredictable weather conditions, lack of technical information and market access, as well as gender inequality.
Training is being delivered through a combination of “Train-the-Trainer” and farmer workshops, field visits, demonstration plots, gender equity training and farming literature. Through these activities, participants will acquire new knowledge on sustainable farming techniques such as the adoption of intercropping to improve yields and productivity, proper application of fertilizers and effective pest control methods, as well as on the key role of women and how to engage their active participation in cotton farming.
At the project’s half-way mark, many participants have already started to experience the benefits of training received over the past six months. Overall cost of cultivation has decreased by between 30% and 35% as a result of more efficient farming methods, and farmers have also begun to harvest higher quality cotton which sells at better prices in the market.
Dnayneshwar Kashinath Shrikhande, a farmer from Shirodi Kh. Village, applied the use of intercropping for the first time under the BCI guidelines and saw his income increase through the sale of additional crops. Meanwhile, for Dattu Devram Sable and Datta Vithoba Shinde, farmers from Padali and Gavhali villages respectively, the new spraying techniques they acquired proved effective in helping to reduce crop protection costs by 30%.
Thomas Couteaudier, LDC’s Head of South & Southeast Asia Region said, “As a leading global cotton merchant and processor of agricultural goods, LDC is fully committed to enhancing sustainable practices across our product value chains. We are very pleased, therefore, to partner with likeminded organizations to promote the production and sourcing of sustainable, high quality cotton in India, as a top cotton producing country. With Maharashtra, the second largest cotton producing state in the country, we believe this initiative can have a meaningful impact in addressing local farming challenges and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in this key region.”
BCI’s Director of Implementation, Alia Malik, added, “BCI has established the Better Cotton Standard System as a holistic approach to sustainable cotton production which covers all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. By helping farmers to grow cotton in a way that reduces stress on the local environment and improves the livelihoods and welfare of farming communities, this partnership between the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund, LDC and Puneet Enterprises has the potential to create long-term change for Indian cotton farmers. It also puts BCI on track to achieve our 2020 goal to reach and train 5 million cotton farmers and produce 30% of global cotton as Better Cotton.”
Pramit Chanda, Country Director of IDH India, said, “IDH is engaged as a strategic partner and plays multiple roles as fund manager, funder and innovation lead. This project is important in scaling Better Cotton outreach in India, building on the partnership between the value chain actors in the cotton industry, and we are excited to see it expand into a large scale collaboration.”
Mr. R. S. Chawla, Director of Puneet Enterprises, added, “This joint project is fully aligned with Puneet’s mission to uplift the social and economic status of Indian cotton farmers through the adoption of low-cost, sustainable production practices and the promotion of decent work. We are committed to achieving the maximum procurement of certified, quality cotton from farmers within the project area, as part of Puneet’s supply chain sustainability objectives.”
Louis Dreyfus Company is a leading merchant and processor of agricultural goods. We leverage our global reach and extensive asset network to serve our customers around the world, delivering the right products to the right location, at the right time – safely, responsibly and reliably. Our activities span the entire value chain from farm to fork, across a broad range of business lines (platforms). Since 1851 our portfolio has grown to include Oilseeds, Grains, Freight, Global Markets, Coffee, Cotton, Sugar, Rice, Dairy and Juice. We help feed and clothe some 500 million people every year by originating, processing and transporting approximately 81 million tons of products. Structured as a matrix organization of 6 geographical regions and 10 platforms, Louis Dreyfus Company is active in over 100 countries and employs approximately 17 000 people globally. For more information, visit www.ldc.com and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.