JTS, a social enterprise based in Paisley, has launched an appeal urging people to buy Kilombero rice in 2021
A Scottish social enterprise is aiming to keep communities in Africa safe by providing high quality food at home.
JTS, a social enterprise based in Paisley, has launched an appeal urging people to buy Kilombero rice in 2021. The rice - a Fair Trade product - is hand sown in northern Malawi and distributed in Scotland by JTS.
Better conditions and increased incomes are crucial in a country such as Malawi, where many people live in rural areas and depend on the land for a living but struggle to earn more than $1.90 (£1.40) a day. Farming communities can often struggle to have enough nutritious food, access healthcare and pay education fees.
Recently, these struggles have been compounded by the increasing frequency of climate-related disasters such as floods and droughts. Now, the effects of the global pandemic have slowed business activity and threaten to push families already struggling to make ends meet further into poverty.
Howard Msukwa, a producer of Kilombero rice in Malawi, said that their rice farming business ground to a halt because of Covid-19 measures and lack of resources last year.
“The pandemic has hit the rice industry hard,” he said. “To go to the fields, we too had to social distance and wear masks but these were not available. We could not attend meetings. There is also a shortage of testing kits.”
JTS is working with Kilombero rice farmers to ensure that critical support continues to reach them.
Mary Popple, chair of JTS, said: “To address immediate needs and help with preventative Covid measures, JTS fundraised to provide buckets, sanitisers, masks and radio advertising to the farming cooperatives we buy from.
“We are now at a stage where we need to ensure that support continues to flow to Malawi in a sustainable way. We can do this best through continuing to buy the excellent Kilombero rice that is produced by small-holder farmers in Malawi.”
The social enterprise is encouraging people to take part in the 90kg Rice Challenge, which sees community groups and schools purchase rice in bulk and challenged to sell it in 1kg portions. The challenge quantifies the benefits of Fair Trade: as this is what a farmer in Malawi has to grow to give them enough of an income to pay for one of his children to go to school.
Colleen Tait, engagement and communications officer at the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, said: “A small, thoughtful action such as buying a bag of Kilombero rice or encouraging your organisation to take the 90kg Rice Challenge can have a far-reaching impact and provide much needed support to farmers in Malawi and a local business in Paisley during this difficult time.”