The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) has announced that the Greek AGRO-2 Integrated Management Standards have been successfully benchmarked as equivalent to the Better Cotton Standard System.

The recognition will promote more sustainable Greek cotton farming.

Greece is the largest cotton-producing country in Europe, with more than 45,000 registered cotton farmers. Cotton is planted on approximately 270,000 hectares – 10% of the total agricultural land.

Greece produces 80% of European cotton, followed by Spain that produces 20% of Europe’s total

Farmers certified under the AGRO-2 standards will 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 Organization 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” Alan McClay, CEO of Better Cotton Initiative said. “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.”

250,000 ha in Greece are eligible for EU coupled support each year.

In MY 2019/20, the cotton production estimation of Greece was 1.67 million equivalent to 480 lb bales with a surge of 18.8% over the previous season due to the significant rise in the area harvested, favourable weather conditions during harvest, and good yields anticipated for the 2nd consecutive year in the major cotton growing districts of Thessaly and Macedonia.

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.

AGRO-2 promotes integrated management of agricultural holdings to make combined use of all available means to reduce inputs and achieve the best possible financial outcome for farmers. Farms and producer groups are enabled and encouraged to set goals and measure their progress towards better farming methods and practices.

What is the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a global not-for-profit organisation. It is the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world. The Better Cotton Standard System is BCI’s holistic approach to sustainable cotton production which covers all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic.

In the 2018-19 cotton season, together with their partners, BCI provided training on more sustainable agricultural practices to 2.3 million farmers from 23 countries.

BCI encompasses organisations all the way from farms to fashion and textile brands to civil society organisations, driving the cotton sector towards sustainability. It accounts for 22% of global cotton production.