Better Cotton, a venture of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) that was set up in 2005, is a movement to combat the harmful processes and outcomes of conventional cotton production. Defined as cotton that is ‘measurably better’ for the environment and farming communities, farmers cultivating Better Cotton minimize the harmful effects of pesticides, use water efficiently and practice processes that retain and enhance soil fertility. Apart from these, care is taken to preserve the quality of cotton fibre and also harvest and store cotton seeds so that contamination and damage is reduced. Most importantly, Better Cotton has a component called ‘Decent Work’, through which farmers work on a voluntary basis to establish and develop organisations representing their interests to give them better negotiating power in the market. Also, under ‘Decent Work’ norms, no child labour or forced labour, or any kind of discrimination based on an individual’s characteristics or group membership is permitted.
The key element that enables farmer groups to become a Better Cotton farmer group is capacity building, in the form of adequate training on the principles of Better Cotton. Such training programs are quite often large in scale; and demand to be carried out within a definite timeframe in order for farmers to become licensed as Better Cotton farmers. The training is comprehensive, and instructs the farmers on all of BCI’s principles with regard to crop protection, water, soil, habitat, fibre quality and decent work.
SourceTrace Systems has designed and developed an activity planner template that can be used by Project Managers and Trainers while delivering training modules on Better Cotton.
The SourceTrace calendar enables effective implementation and monitoring of such training modules with a template that provides for an overview of the project, as well as categories for other training details like references, topics, criteria information and target groups (such as farmer/staff/stakeholder, for example). It also has a section for training methods, in which methods are classified into ‘classroom’, ‘presentation’, or ‘drama’. Based on this training calendar schedule, the Project Manager or Trainer can print status reports on training completion. Any deviation from the plan or incomplete sessions can quickly be corrected and completed by using the calendar schedule for reference.
In its own way, these training programs contribute in bringing the producer groups closer to their end market. It also helps inform the buyers and consumers of the pressures and constraints that smallholder farmers face. The SourceTrace template is a step in that direction by ensuring accuracy and timeliness of these training programs, the crucial link between the aspiring and the licensed Better Cotton farmer.