Ebro rice wins gourmet award
Organic race grown in a vitally important European wetland area by one BirdLife Partner, before being marketed and sold abroad by another, has just won its first award.
The RSPB's (BirdLife in the UK) organic white and brown rice is grown by SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife in Spain) on its farm in the magnificent Ebro Delta of northeast Spain. Certified as organic, the farm is managed with both food production and wildlife conservation in mind. The RSPB launched the wildlife-friendly rice in the UK in March, and it has not taken long for it to make its mark, winning the Best New Food Product at the Natural Products and Organic Industry Awards held in London on 5 April.
"We are delighted that the rice has won this award, especially as 2004 has been designated the UN’s International Year of Rice. The Ebro Delta is a magnificent place for wildlife, and demonstrates that sustainable food production can co-exist with the demands of nature." —Hannah Bartram, RSPB Senior Agriculture Policy Officer
The Ebro Delta is one of the most important wetlands in the western Mediterranean, and is the second largest in Spain after the Doñana National Park. Agriculture, especially rice growing, is the most important activity in the Delta, which covers 320 square kilometres.
All of this is under threat however, as a result of the controversial Spanish Hydrological Plan. The proposed plan would see water from the Ebro River diverted more than 1,000 km to Spain's south-east region, leading to potential devastation for the Ebro Delta. So far the European Commission has not agreed to provide the required 1.3 billion euros of funding. It now remains to be seen what will happen with the project, particularly given the election of a new Spanish Government.