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Launched last week at the BCI Global Cotton Conference in Brussels, the BCI 2017 annual report reveals the group is getting ever closer to its goal of Better Cotton accounting for 30% of global production by 2020. As it moves closer to mainstreaming Better Cotton, the focus will move to developing its strategy beyond 2020 with plans to align its ambitions with the UN's 2030 sustainable development vision. BCI is a non-profit that promotes better standards in cotton farming and practices, with partner retailers including H&M, Gap and Levi Strauss. Its annual report celebrates the achievements of BCI farmers, partners, members and stakeholders from around the world. In the 2016-2017 cotton season, 1.3m licensed BCI farmers in 21 countries produced some 3.3m metric tonnes of Better Cotton lint, enabling a record-level of more sustainably produced cotton to enter the global supply chain. In both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, BCI's implementing and strategic partners trained 1.6m cotton farmers on more sustainable agricultural practices. For the 2016-17 season, however, a lower percentage of producer units – groupings of BCI farmers in the same community or region – were licensed to sell Better Cotton under the Better Cotton Standard System. BCI's assurance programme uses a combination of internal and external assessment to verify that producers remain compliant with all minimum requirements for licensing. Under the assurance programme in 2016-2017, licenses were denied or cancelled for a number of reasons, including non-compliance with minimum requirements on pesticide application and producers not submitting accurate farm-level results data. The most notable reductions in licenses came from India and Mali. As a result, the total number of licensed BCI farmers decreased compared to the previous year. However, the vast majority of these farmers have continued participating in the BCI programme, receiving training and support.
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