The Better Cotton Initiative launches in Greece

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) has announced that Greek Agro-2 Integrated Management Standards have been successfully benchmarked as equivalent to Better Cotton Standard System which will promote more sustainable Greek cotton farming. Greece is the largest cotton-producing country in Europe, with more than 45,000 registered cotton farmers.   Farmers certified under the Agro-2 standards who elect to participate in the BCI programme will now be eligible to sell their cotton as Better Cotton from the 2020-21 cotton season. By the end of 2022, it is estimated that 5,000 farmers will be growing Agro-2 licensed cotton (equivalent to Better Cotton), on 40,000 hectares, producing around 185,000 bales.  

The Agro-2 Integrated Management Standards were developed by the national Hellenic Agricultural Organisation, Elgo-Demeter, a statutory body under the ministry of rural development and food. Elgo-Demeter and the Inter-Branch Organisation of Greek Cotton (DOV) – jointly Elgo-Dov – partnered to promote and implement the Agro-2 standards for Greek cotton production.  

“We are delighted to be working with Elgo-Dov as a strategic partner and welcome Greece as a new BCI equivalent standard. By bringing the two systems together, Greek cotton will be able to contribute to improved farmer livelihoods while increasing the profile of the country’s more sustainable cotton production,” Alan McClay, CEO at Better Cotton Initiative, said in a press release.  

The benchmarking of the Agro-2 standards to the Better Cotton Standard System is the culmination of several years of engagement and preparation. The process began in 2017 following interest expressed by Greek stakeholders.  

BCI worked with IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, to explore the possibility of a BCI programme in Greece. With initial funding from the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund, a series of stakeholder consultations and assessments were conducted in line with BCI’s benchmarking and start-up process. After an independent comparison of the standards and a comprehensive gap analysis, a viable path towards benchmarking Agro-2 with the Better Cotton Standard System (BCSS) was identified.  

Following a thorough benchmarking review of the six components of the BCSS, modifications were made to the Agro-2 standards to ensure alignment. Upon completion, Greece began the official BCI country start-up process, culminating in the signing of a strategic partnership agreement between BCI and Elgo-Dov to recognise Agro-2 certified cotton as equivalent to Better Cotton.

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