Solidaridad and VF Corporation, a global clothing company with brands such as Timberland®, The North Face®, Lee®, and Wrangler® jeans, partnered in 2013 to set up a project with smallholder farmers in the Chinese province of Hebei.
Since then, Solidaridad has been training smallholder farmers, through farmer field school techniques, on the Better Cotton production principles, as laid out by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). This helps farmers grow cotton in a way that reduces stress on the environment, while increasing productivity. The project also ensures reliable market linkage for the 1,241 farmers participating in the project. Taking a holistic approach to community development, Solidaridad also integrated activities with women and children, such as interactive workshops focused on education, health, and culture, to improve the overall quality of life in the 9 Julu county villages involved in the project.
During a field visit in October, representatives from Solidaridad, VF Corporation and BCI could witness first-hand how farmers benefit from higher yields and savings on production costs. The farmers also feel better informed about the benefits of sustainable cotton cultivation for the community and the environment.
The BCI license awarded this year to the farmers in the project demonstrates that sustainable cotton production by smallholder farmers, though challenging, is possible in China.