25 of 2020

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                                                              Newsletter No. 25 / 10 July 2020                             

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BCI cotton reaches 22% of global production

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) has launched its 2019 annual report. In the report, BCI shares that cotton produced by licensed BCI farmers in line with the initiative’s Better Cotton Principles and Criteria, now accounts for 22 per cent of global cotton production, an increase of 40% on the previous year. The volume sourced by BCI’s 150 retailers, of which South Africa’s Woolworths is one, and brand members in 2019 represent 6% of global cotton production. By increasing sourcing commitments year-on-year and integrating Better Cotton into their sustainable sourcing strategies, BCI retailer and brand members are driving demand for more sustainable cotton production worldwide, according to a BCI press release.
In the 2018-19 cotton season, together with expert on-the-ground implementing partners and with support from more than 1,800 members, BCI provided training on more sustainable agricultural practices to 2.3 million cotton farmers, 2.1 million gained a license to sell Better Cotton. This drove the volume of more sustainably produced cotton available on the global market to a new level. By increasing sourcing commitments year-on-year and integrating Better Cotton into their sustainable sourcing strategies, BCI retailer and brand members are driving demand for more sustainable cotton production worldwide, according to a BCI press release.
Cotton SA is South Africa’s local BCI implementation partner and we are proud to share our 2019-2020 performance statistics with you:

  • 4 gins with a total of 551 farmers produced cotton according to the BCI Principles and Criteria.
  • 476 of the farmers were smallholder farmers, 67 medium farmers and 8 large farmers, together they planted 11 654 hectares of cotton.
  • 42% of the total hectares of cotton planted in South Africa were done in accordance with the BCI Principles and Criteria.
  • 44% of the seed cotton produced for the year under review was BCI compliant. In comparison to the previous season, the hectares planted decreased by 25% and the seed cotton produced by 17%. The decrease is mainly because of the drought and the availability of cottonseed.
  • 551 farmers with 9 Field Facilitators (Extension Officers), 5 Producer Unit Managers and 5 Administrators completed training in the sustainable agricultural principles and criteria. New training and supporting material have been compiled by Cotton SA. The aim is to encourage continuous improvement practices overtime above the minimum legal requirements.
  • Only one BCI audit were conducted by Cotton SA and BCI telephonically. This is a deviation from the normal 3 audits because of the Covid-19 lockdown situation.  Cotton SA

Better Cotton Initiative – Message from the CEO

In 2019, we celebrated the Better Cotton Initiative’s (BCI’s) 10-year anniversary. BCI has come a long way since a visionary group of farmers, NGOs and apparel brands first came together to transform the way cotton is grown. In our first decade, we became the world’s largest cotton sustainability programme, supported by an unprecedented 1,842 members. Throughout this time, our activity has focused on improving cotton farmers’ livelihoods and farming practices. In the 2018-19 cotton season (which ran from August 2018 to July 2019), BCI worked with 76 on-the-ground expert partners to deliver training to 2.3 million farmers in 23 countries. Together, licensed BCI Farmers produced 5.6 million tonnes of Better Cotton, or 22% of global cotton production.

More than 400 new organisations joined BCI’s growing network in the past year, and we welcomed new members across our five membership categories: retailers and brands, suppliers and manufacturers, civil society, producer organisations and associate members. Importantly, as businesses step up their focus on sustainable materials and supply chain resilience, demand for more sustainable cotton is rising. BCI Retailer and Brand Members sourced a record 1.5 million tonnes of Better Cotton in 2019 – that is enough cotton to make approximately 1.5 billion pairs of jeans.

It is particularly pleasing to share the progress BCI is making, thanks to the concerted efforts of our members, partners and other stakeholders, towards our 2020 targets. With two more cotton seasons (2019-20 and 2020-21) within which to make further advances at field level, we are committed to not only continuing to deliver beneficial change at field level, but also to learning from the experience and adapting to become more effective. We do not yet know how close we will come to our 2020 targets, and we are still assessing how the current Covid-19 pandemic will impact our efforts. But one thing is certain, we have made significant and undeniable progress over the past 10 years, and there are many successes to celebrate. In summer 2021, we will share the final results that outline where we ended up relative to our 2020 targets. For now, in this report, we will focus on 2019 and the opportunities and challenges we addressed in the field and in the market.

2019 was a year of significant advances on the ground and in the marketplace, amid continued climate disruption and geopolitical instability. Cotton farmers worldwide have persevered in the face of extreme weather and water scarcity, from the irregular rains in Mali, to cyclones in the US cotton belt, to Australia’s multi-year drought. Building farmers’ resilience to climate change is an increasing focus for BCI and our partners and runs throughout our Better Cotton Principles and Criteria. You can read more about BCI’s work on the ground in the farmer stories shared throughout this report.

Forced Labour and discrimination are incompatible with the Better Cotton Standard and unacceptable within BCI Programmes. On a global level, we established a Task Force on Forced Labour and Decent Work to review selected elements of the Better Cotton Standard System and produce recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the system in identifying, preventing, mitigating and remediating forced labour risks.

In 2020, the BCI Council took the decision to suspend BCI assurance and licensing activities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China effective beginning the 2020-21 season as these activities cannot currently be implemented in a credible manner within the existing operating context. You can read more about this within the report.

Today, in the midst of the global Covid-19 outbreak, our priority is to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all BCI Farmers, on-the-ground partners and staff in line with evolving government and World Health Organization guidance. In addition to immediate, practical steps to protect our people, we and our Implementing Partners are also innovating and adapting training and assurance activities to continue to effectively support farming communities and implement the Better Cotton Standard around the world. We are sharing regular updates on this through our Covid-19 website hub and Covid-19 and the Cotton Sector blog series.

We now stand on the threshold of a new decade of action. We have consulted extensively among BCI Members, Partners and stakeholders to develop our 2030 strategy, reflect on our journey to date and focus our efforts on strengthening and deepening the impact of BCI Programmes around the world. We shall present the 2030 BCI strategy in the last quarter of 2020. Delivering positive change at farm level will remain our core focus, while we continue to scale our efforts to ensure more sustainable cotton becomes the norm.

I’d like to take this opportunity to convey my sincere thanks to all our supporters and stakeholders, without whom BCI’s progress would not be possible.

I hope you enjoy this report and welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Alan McClay

The Better Cotton Initiative exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, the environment it grows in and the sector’s future.

Owner of Legit offers to buy part of Edgars

Parts of South African retail chain Edgars may be sold to Edcon competitor Retailability Ltd, business rescue practitioners in charge of Edcon’s restructuring said on Tuesday.

Retailability is a fashion retailer and the holding company of store brands including Legit, Beaver Canoe and Style. The company, which bought Legit clothing stores from Edgars for R637m in 2016, now operates in over 460 stores across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and eSwatini.

The business rescue practitioners said that the transaction, if successfully concluded, will be a positive outcome for the business rescue process, as Edgars will be well served in the hands of an experienced Retailability team.

“Through this transaction, Retailability plans to utilise Edgars’ unique value proposition, and large attractive target market, to ensure the growth and continuity of a proudly South African Edgars brand.”

Edcon, which also owns value retailer Jet, was placed in business rescue in April after it could not pay suppliers following weak January sales and a loss of R2bn in sales when stores were closed during the Covid-19 Level 5 lockdown.

“This significant step will not only save a significant number of jobs, but importantly, will lead to the sustainability of a proudly South African iconic brand, whose continuity would serve the greater economy. The details of the transaction will be finalised on the signing of definitive agreements and the fulfilment of the various conditions precedent,” the business rescue practitioners said.
They added that “the business rescue plan in respect of the other Edcon businesses/or parts thereof is in its advanced stages. As you would anticipate, the nature of such transactions are complex, and formal announcements will be made once we are able to do so.”

The Edgars transaction will be subject to various conditions precedent and regulatory approvals, including the Competition Authorities. The closing of the transaction is targeted for this quarter. Bizcommunity

SABS reports heightened need for face mask standards

Dr Sadhvir Bissoon

National standards body, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), reports that the need for national standards has been highlighted during the outbreak of Covid-19 as the disruption of global supply chains has impacted the acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPE), related medical equipment and infrastructure to deal with the containment and management of the pandemic.

In the past few weeks, the SABS has transitioned to convening online technical committee meetings to ensure the important work of developing national standards continues with fewer interruptions.

“One of the priority projects that has emerged during the pandemic is to fast-track the development of an industry technical agreement (ITA) on fabric face masks, notes SABS standards executive Sadhvir Bissoon.

“It is important that the publication addresses minimum requirements and test methods for fabric type, reusable face masks,” he explains.

The SABS is mandated to develop, promote and maintain South African National Standards (SANS), which provide knowledge and support technical aspects of societal and environment policies and contribute to sustainable development.

It further serves as a vehicle for the dissemination of new technologies and innovative practices, facilitating trade while supporting industrialisation objectives.

Bissoon says that, given the lockdown measures in place, the SABS has had to review its operational model to ensure it continues to develop SANS and provide access to SANS during these unusual times. “The development of SANS is as a result of the voluntary participation and scientific input of various subject matter experts.”

He adds that the members of the SABS technical committees aspire to achieve consensus on the technical requirements to ensure that SANS are relevant and in the best interest of the country.

Further, the SABS states that standards do not exist in isolation and the need for conformity assessment, that is testing and certification, of products is equally important for quality assurance purposes.

“SANS can take anything from six to 24 months to be developed, depending on the complexity of the standard, stakeholder engagement process and achieving a consensus driven publication,” says Bissoon.

He says that standards are developed through an open, transparent and consensus process within technical committees and are subjected to a public enquiry process. In some cases draft standards are subjected to several rounds of public enquiry processes and SABS has the responsibility of ensuring that the comments are addressed where relevant.

“These are some of the factors that determine the length of time a standard takes to be developed,” he notes.

SABS currently has a collection of 7 400 SANS and continues to develop more standards. EN

Did you know……..

Canadian Tuxedo

If jeans are so all-American, why is wearing head-to-toe denim called a “Canadian Tuxedo?” Maybe the idea came from a 1951 anecdote featuring entertainer Bing Crosby, who was barred from entering a Vancouver hotel because he was dressed completely in denim. Levi Strauss & Co. heard about the incident and designed a special suit jacket made out of their signature Levi Strauss denim, complete with copper rivets and wide tuxedo lapels, so that Crosby would be welcome in any establishment in his 501s.

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