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Senior diplomat welcomed for Fairtrade visit

Renfrewshire rolled out the red carpet as a senior diplomat visited the area to find out how a Paisley business is helping improve the lives of people in Africa.

Bernard Sande, Malawi’s High Commissioner to the UK, had requested to make a special visit to Fairtrade wholesaler Just Trading Scotland.

Fairtrade products are those which guarantee that producers in the developing world have been given a fair price for their goods.

Mr Sande was welcomed by Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan and Councillor Brian Lawson, the Convener and Deputy Convener of Renfrewshire’s Fairtrade Steering Group.

Fairtrade visit JTS

They were joined by directors of Just Trading Scotland and by pupils from Gryffe and Trinity High Schools for a tour of the building, before Mr Sande headed over to Paisley Abbey for a discussion on trade.

Councillor Macmillan said: “We were delighted to welcome the High Commissioner to Paisley and it is testament to the good work being carried out by Just Trading Scotland that he asked to come here to see it for himself.

“He told us about some of the issues surrounding the export of rice from Malawi, and of the impact that the Fairtrade movement has had in his home country.

“By buying fairly-traded products, residents of Renfrewshire are helping to improve living conditions for farmers in poorer parts of the world.

“People and organisations across Renfrewshire have been involved in a lot of work to help promote Fairtrade over the past few years.

“Renfrewshire achieved Fairtrade area status in 2009, and Paisley, Bishopton, Lochwinnoch and Renfrew have all become Fairtrade towns or villages.

“We look forward to continuing the campaign with a series of local events planned for Fairtrade Fortnight 2013, which takes place in February and March.”

John Riches, JTS director, said: “We were very encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the High Commissioner for the work we are doing promoting Malawi Kilombero rice in Scotland.

“He pledged support for our plans for development among rice farmers in the north of Malawi. And he said how much he was encouraged by the support and enthusiasm of of young people in schools in Scotland. It’s all a great boost for fair trade and for the work we do at Paisley.”

Just Trading Scotland is unique within Scotland in that it imports and distributes Fairtrade goods, while helping to expand the scheme throughout Africa.

Renfrewshire Council supports JTS, which based at a warehouse at Wallneuk in Paisley, by helping to provide accommodation.

The council’s Fairtrade Steering group features representatives from the council, local schools, higher education bodies and businesses, as well as from the various Fairtrade groups set up in the area’s towns and villages.

Malawi is one of the world’s least-developed countries, where around half the population have to live on less than $1 a day, and agriculture accounts for more than a third of GDP.

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