What is Better Cotton?


Better Cotton is a cotton production standard that aims to produce environmentally, socially and economically sustainable cotton. This standard consists of criteria gathered under 7 main principles, from the use of pesticides to soil health, from water consumption to the working conditions of the workers working in cotton production. The farmer who produces per these criteria is called a Better Cotton farmer and the cotton produced by this farmer is qualified as Better Cotton licensed cotton.


What is the difference of Better Cotton from other cotton? Is it better quality?


When we say quality, not only the physical properties of cotton but also the growing conditions come to mind. Many growing conditions, such as producing cotton using the right amount of water, growing it in a way that will not make the soil barren, not using unnecessary pesticides, not harming natural life, not employing child labor in cotton production, are the factors affecting the quality of the cotton's production process. When the quality is perceived in this way, Better Cotton is cotton with a higher quality production process, but when only physical fiber properties are considered, Better Cotton is not different from normal cotton.


In which countries is it produced?


According to 2015 figures, the Better Cotton Standard, which is applied in America, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and many African countries, is practiced by 1.5 million farmers in 23 countries in 5 continents.

The aim is the widespread production and consumption of cotton produced in more sustainable standards. Again, according to 2016 figures, Better Cotton licensed cotton production covers 14% of world cotton production and the 2020 target is to cover 30% of world cotton production.

As the institution that developed and disseminated this standard, the Better Cotton Initiative aims to replace conventional cotton with Better Cotton licensed sustainable cotton by transforming cotton production processes on a global scale. In this context, the Better Cotton standard has aimed to enter many countries with different socio-economic production practices and has succeeded.


What is IPUD and how does it relate to Better Cotton?


IPUD, Better Cotton Practices Association was established in 2013, is a non-governmental organization with an association status. Its membership base covers leading institutions in the cotton industry, from the field to the ready-to-wear. The aim of IPUD is to make cotton production processes in Turkey more sustainable. For this purpose, IPUD is responsible for the implementation of the Better Cotton standard in Turkey, within the framework of the strategic partnership agreement it signed with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), the founder of the Better Cotton standard. IPUD is responsible for finding and training local partners to grow Better Cotton across Turkey, coordinating farmer training and conducting necessary farmer and local partner audits and licensing on behalf of BCI. To learn more about the institutional structure of IPUD, visit the website: www.iyipamuk.org.tr


Who demands Better Cotton in the World and in Turkey?


Brands that care about sustainable production processes and try to transform their supply chain as much as possible in this regard also demand that their raw materials come from sustainable sources. In this context, many brands that use cotton as a raw material encourage the supply of cotton produced under Better Cotton standards by their supply chain. For more information on these brands, visit the Better Cotton Initiative website: www.bettercotton.org

There are many yarn, textile and apparel companies in Turkey that also provide products to brands that demand Better Cotton licensed cotton. These companies are aware of the importance of the sustainability of cotton not only to meet the demands of their customers, but also within the framework of their own corporate social responsibility strategies, and they try to act in this direction.


What are the Better Cotton production figures in Turkey?


The production amounts over the years in Turkey, where the first Better Cotton harvest was carried out in 2013, are shown in the table below. The provinces in which we operate as of 2017 are Adana, Aydın, Denizli, Diyarbakır, Hatay, Izmir, Kahramanmaras, Sanlıurfa.








Production Area (hectares)






Number of Farmers






Seed Cotton Production (tons)






Fiber Equivalent of Seed Cotton Production (tons)







Our association aims to include both more cotton production regions and more cotton farmers in this production process. In this context, our 2020 target is to cover 20% of Turkey's cotton production.


Why is Better Cotton important for the Turkish Cotton and Textile industry?


The development of awareness about sustainability in global markets causes the demand for sustainable cotton to increase day by day in the world and Turkey. It is foreseen that the demand for sustainable cotton will continue to increase rapidly over time and important cotton-producing countries will have to adapt to this change sooner or later. As IPUD, we aim for cotton producers in Turkey to adapt to this change process without delay.

By ensuring that the Better Cotton sustainability standard, which is recognized by many countries day by day, is implemented in Turkey, we contribute both to the production of Turkish cotton in more sustainable ways in environmental, social and economic terms, and to the Turkish cotton, yarn, textile and apparel industry to keep up with the world demand to develop in this direction.


What is the benefit for the cotton farmer of producing to the Better Cotton standard?


The main objective of the Better Cotton standard is to optimize the use of extra inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, water, and diesel by the cotton producer, to ensure that they produce without losing efficiency while protecting the soil and environmental health, and at the same time, reducing the input costs of the farmer.

In this context, the benefits of the Better Cotton standard to cotton farmers are in three ways: Keeping the soil and natural life healthy for longer periods and transferring them to next generations, increasing profitability by reducing input costs, and gaining competitiveness in the sustainable cotton demand which is widespread in global markets. 

The data on cotton production from all farmers producing Better Cotton is collected by our association. All data from the inputs used in cotton production to general application methods, seasonal climate problems and farmer costs are collected and compiled in the form of harvest reports at the end of the year. These data reveal the differences between farmers (control farmers) who apply and do not apply Better Cotton standards under equal conditions. According to these data, Better Cotton farmers use fewer pesticides, fertilizers and water compared to control farmers. Details of these data can be found in the Harvest Reports published on the website of our association: http://iyipamuk.org.tr/page/1636/better_cotton/better_cotton_initiative_hasat_raporlari.html


What are the rules that a farmer must follow in order to produce Better Cotton?


Compared to other countries, cotton farmers in Turkey are at a very good level in terms of agricultural practices and yield. However, there are always things to go further. We can briefly summarize the points required to comply with the Better Cotton standard under the 6 main headings.

Using the right pesticide application methods, ensuring effective and efficient use of water, fertilization and soil cultivation practices that will give importance to soil health, protection of natural life, implementation of practices that will protect fiber quality, compliance with the rights and working conditions of employees within the scope of decent work.

All farmers who believe that they are producing within the framework of these six principles can contact us to produce in the Better Cotton standard.


What kind of activities does IPUD carry out for Turkish farmers to produce in the Better Cotton standard?


IPUD first finds local agencies that can follow cotton farmers directly. It trains project managers and field personnel in these institutions on the requirements of the standard and supports them throughout the season. In addition to the farmer training provided by these institutions locally, it organizes regional farmer and worker training. It also conducts land and local partner audits to check compliance with the standard and decides on licensing. It carries out projects aimed at removing the obstacles to more sustainable production by bringing together the actors in cotton production (research institutes, universities, private persons and institutions). In addition to all these, it controls, organizes and reports the data collected by local partners. In addition, it communicates with BCI and conducts studies for both the development of the standard and the dissemination of this standard in Turkey.


Who is licensed for Better Cotton and how does the process work for licensing?


The Better Cotton license is given to farmer groups. Farmers who want to produce following this standard are grouped under the local partners determined by IPUD and their practices are supported and supervised by these institutions. In addition, licensing decisions are made by observing the land inspections carried out by IPUD and independent inspection organizations and the work of local partners throughout the year. It is important that farmers in the same group keep in touch in order to raise each other's practices. In all these licensing processes and training, no cost is charged from the small and medium-sized farmers. IPUD carries out the necessary collaborations and practices so that all these support and control mechanisms do not reflect on the farmer as a cost. The only exception is large-scale farmers over 200 hectares. The system allows large-scale farm enterprises to obtain licenses individually, not under a group, and independent audit organizations inspect farms of this size. The farmer bears the cost of this inspection.

The entire licensing and inspection process covers only the production process of the cotton in the field, plus the segregation and processing of the cotton licensed as Better Cotton at the ginner factory. It is not within IPUD's mandate to monitor and supervise other supply chain actors from the moment the cotton leaves the ginner factory. The main objective of this standard is to make the production activities in the field sustainable.  


How can Better Cotton be popularized in Turkey?


It is not as difficult as it may seem that cotton production in Turkey may reach the Better Cotton standard. We observe the positive effects of sustainability standards, such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), carried out under the supervision of the ministry, in reaching this level of Turkish farmers. The view and practices of the farmers, who previously applied the GAP standard, are very close to the Better Cotton criteria. We think that our farmers who produce in this way should be encouraged by the state, as was done in the GAP in the past, to ensure the spread of the idea of sustainable cotton farming. In this context, the cotton farmer who makes sustainable production, be it Good Agricultural Practice, Better Cotton or any other standard should be supported.

Besides, there are some issues that farmers cannot cope with on their own, but can be improved with public infrastructure investments. For example, issues such as the expansion of closed, pressurized irrigation systems, the purification of our water resources from industrial wastes, the collection of empty pesticide boxes are issues that farmers cannot solve individually and require a public intervention. In addition, the relevant ministries must make more effective controls on issues ranging from the control of banned pesticides to the use of protective clothing by pesticide applicators, from observing the legal rights of cotton workers to regulating life and transportation issues.

In addition, it is very important for cotton, yarn, textile and apparel stakeholders to embrace and support the Better Cotton standard and its implementer in Turkey, IPUD, in order to make their industries more sustainable.