Israeli cotton farmers  joined BCI last year.

The Better Cotton Initiative said it successfully completed its “expansion phase” in 2015 and is on track to achieve its long-term goals.

The Geneva-based BCI said Tuesday in its annual report that it reached 1.6 million farmers worldwide last year, a 23 percent increase from 2014. Licensed BCI farmers produced 2.6 million metric tons of Better Cotton, up 34 percent from the previous year and representing 11.9 percent of global cotton production. Better Cotton was grown and processed in 21 countries on five continents last year.

Membership and retailer procurement grew 50 percent and 115 percent, respectively, BCI noted, and BCI and its partners invested almost 12 million euros, or $13.36 million, through the Better Cotton Fast Track Program, supporting 70 farm projects across eight countries.

“We thank our partners, funders, members and BCI staff for having played such a crucial role in achieving our goals this year and positioning us to make Better Cotton a responsible mainstream commodity by 2020,” said Paola Geremicca, director of communications and fundraising at BCI.

Among BCVI’s members are Adidas AG, H&M, Ikea, Levi Strauss & Co. and Nike Inc.

Alan McClay, chief executive officer, said, “BCI is now entering our defining ‘mainstreaming phase’ designed to establish Better Cotton as a responsible mainstream commodity, accounting for 30 percent of global cotton production by 2020. In this way, we aim to catalyze positive change throughout the sector and promote healthy production for future generations.”

McClay added that BCI members “are acting on the key sustainability issues we see today in cotton farming, including pesticide and fertilizer use, water management and efficiency, gender issues and labor conditions.”

BCI said it has also begun to review the Better Cotton Standard System to ensure it remains relevant and continues to drive effective improvements at the farm level.

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