Niche commodity trading company, Freeworld Trading, based in Edinburgh, has donated a fire engine to the tiny Bolivian town of Riberalta. This town with a population of 100,000, and only just over a 100 years old is situated at the confluence of the rivers Beni and Madre De Dios, and is where most of the worlds brazil nuts are cracked. Brazil nuts represent over half Amazonian income and are collected in Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. The cracking and international distribution of these nuts begins at Riberalta. Freeworld Trading handles around a third of this entire trade with sales throughout the world from Australia to California.
The brazil nut only grows in the Amazon, in its home of deep wild rainforest. Every bag of nuts has to be carried out of the jungle, on river and rough road to Riberalta. Because of this, this trade represents a sustainable future for the rainforest. Families in Northern Bolivia can make a living by collecting brazils and other wild non timber forest products, a living good enough to provide medical care and university level education for their children. Freeworld Trading is involved in a project with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, supported by the Darwin Initiative, to develop access to markets for a wider range of sustainable forest products, thus helping to support livelihoods in Bolivian forest communities. By buying these products the public makes a meaningful contribution to the preservation of the rain forest and hence bio diversity.
Every year many people lose their house, property , health and sometimes life to fire in Riberalta. Even though there is a small airport, there is no fire engine till now. Freeworld Trading in a 50/50 arrangement with the Bolivian company Amazonas-Manutata paid for the refurbishment and refitting ( just short of USD 100,000 ) of this fire engine which was donated by the American Embassy. KC Group Shipping, the logistics partners of Freeworld Trading, currently transport a substantial volume of Brazil Nuts throughout the world and have further shown their commitment to the community of Riberalta by shipping the Fire Engine to Bolivia without charge.
The fire engine has just landed in Iquique for onwards travel to Riberalta.
In my view, this donation represents the confluence of three ideas. 1) Preservation of rain forest by providing an income through the marketing of non timber forest products, 2) the understanding, appreciation and mutual benefit between cultures through trade 3) The future of Scotland as a trading nation.
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Dr. Sanjoy Das