By Julie Strupp
Aspen Institute 2013 New Voices Fellow Salif Romano Niang is the co-founder and chief impact officer of Malo, a company working to revolutionize the rice industry in Niang’s home country of Mali. Niang created a new model of rice production and marketing across the entire rice value chain that supports small-scale farmers and their communities. Niang has a BA and MA from Purdue University in political science and French, a minor in economics, and is currently a Ph.D candidate at the Department of Political Science. His research and teaching has focused on conflict, stability, the gap between rich and poor nations, and social entrepreneurship as a modern approach to wealth and peace. Niang has received prizes and awards in a variety of competitions, including the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition, the Pace Pitch Contest, Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl, and the Dell Social Innovation Competition. He is also a founder and board member of Tambaroua Business Farming. Niang sat down with AllAfrica’s Julie Strupp to discuss his new fellowship with the Aspen Institute and his work with rice farmers in Mali.
Tell us about your project.
The name of my company is Malo, which means rice in the Bambara language in Mali and other parts of West Africa. Essentially what we’re trying to do is take the world’s most consumed staple food and turn it into a product that produces nutritional benefits for consumers, that provides farmers with a decent wage, and also provides other products such as fertilizer, animal feed and cooking oil. We’re really trying to make rice the engine of development.
How did you get interested in rice agriculture?
My interest in food security and agriculture goes back all the way to when I was a little kid. I grew up in Ethiopia and my dad was a United Nations food security expert and diplomat, so food security was always something I was interested in. But for this project, what really motivated me and my brother…