MSP Humza Yousaf is a backing a Scottish fair trade business which hopes to create a ‘rice revolution’ in the capital by persuading consumers to buy its ethically sourced rice and, in turn, help to benefit the lives of smallholders in Africa.
MSP Humza Yousaf met with Paisley-based Just Trading Scotland (JTS) as Edinburgh grocery store, Margiottas took stock of the organisation’s new premium Kilombero rice product. The product has been launched following an investment of £70k from Social Investment Scotland and aims to meet growing consumer demand for ethical foods.
Speaking at the launch the Minister for Europe and International Development Humza Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government is proud to support Fair Trade and this launch by Just Trading Scotland of their ‘rice revolution’. This is a further demonstration of Scotland’s commitment as a Fair Trade Nation to making a real difference to the lives of farmers and their families in the developing world by paying them a fair price for their goods.
"I am delighted JTS through this launch are giving the people of Scotland further opportunity to make fair trade purchasing choices and therefore play a role in tackling inequality globally. I am also pleased that Margiottas has signalled its intention to sell Kilombero Rice and I hope that many other retailers will do the same – I’ve cooked with the rice myself, and it’s delicious.”
The rice itself is farmed across Malawi, one of the world’s least developed countries where around 85% of the population live in rural areas and agriculture accounts for a third of the country’s GDP. Where previously the product has been sold in 1kg and 3kg catering style bags, the rebranded Kilombero product will be sold in smaller, more convenient 500g and 1kg bags which can stand up on a shelf and are more suitable for high street shops.
John Riches, Chairman at Just Trading Scotland, said: “Kilombero offers consumers a whole new way of buying and eating rice and we are delighted to bring our product to Margiottas. We know that Scots want more opportunities to buy ethically sourced, fairly traded premium products. By purchasing Kilombero, we can all make a huge difference by helping to unlock the potential of people and communities and tackle inequality in Malawi and elsewhere.
"Many retailers, both large and small, have already expressed interest and we’re confident that we can convert that interest into sales. Hopefully, together, we can all start a rice revolution right here in Scotland.”
Keith Bohannon, from the Scotland Malawi Partnership said:“The Scotland Malawi Partnership is delighted to support the work of JTS in bringing this fairly traded Malawian rice to Scotland. Not only does it taste great but it also provides much needed opportunities for sustainable livelihoods for thousands of small holder formers in Malawi.
Margiotta Ltd Managing Director, Franco Margiotta added:“We are delighted to support Just Trading Scotland and the Scotland Malawi Partnership in this worthy cause. We hope that to provide a convenient outlet for supporters to buy the Kilombero Rice in Scotland’s capital.”
JTS has already built up a successful order book by challenging fair trade shops, charities, churches, schools and other groups to sell 90kg of Kilombero rice - enough to enable a Malawian farmer to pay for one year of basic secondary education for one child.