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KENYA – Kenya has confirmed plans to increase fresh produce exports through Eldoret International Airport, harnessing its potential as a strategic gateway to international markets.

Eldoret International Airport is in Uasin Gishu County 17 kilometers south of Eldoret town. The airport is Kenya’s third most busiest airport handling up to 12,000 metric tonnes of Cargo annually.

Uasin Gishu County Government in collaborative efforts with the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), State Department of Agriculture and the United Nations now seeks to further elevate the airport’s profile by expanding fresh produce exports.

Among the dignitaries in attendance at the workshop were the country’s Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Roads, Kipchumba Murkomen, Agriculture and Livestock Development CS Mithika Linturi, the Bungoma County Governor, Kenneth Lusaka, and Stephen Sang, the Nandi County Governor, along with the Deputy Governors for Uasin Gishu and Baringo Counties, Eng. John Barorot and Felix Maiyo, respectively.

“It is important to comply with International Standards and Regulations. We need to invest in quality control measures to ensure that Eldoret’s fresh produce meets the highest standards in terms of safety and quality,”Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi highlighted at the Eldoret Workshop.

To handle a higher amount, EIA will require facility upgrade, a task which the National Government through the CS for Transport has promised to undertake.

Kipchumba Murkomen, the CS in charge, revealed that plans were underway to expand the airports runway from 3.5kilometers to 4.1 kilometers which should be sufficient to allow cargo planes carrying more than 55 tonnes to take off.

Other airport upgrades include installation of a jet fuel station to address frequent fuel shortages that currently impact airport operations and setting up of additional storage and cold rooms to enable the airport process more fresh produce for export.

Governor Jonathan Bii, who was represented by his Deputy Governor Eng. John Barorot, emphasized the importance of meeting all export demands for key players in the fresh produce market.

Governor Bii further asserted the need for the farmers to raise the production rate to create a system of continual supply of fresh produce. That way, they would tap into the global market, hence creating more market opportunities.

Further highlighted in the meeting was the crucial need to fully involve farmers in the fresh produce export plan. Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka, together with his Nandi counterpart Stephen Sang, encouraged farmers to engage in fresh produce farming and viewed the export program as a chance to grow and expand their businesses.

“As farmers, it is crucial for you to prioritize proper harvesting, sorting, and packaging techniques. This will guarantee that the produce you export maintains its quality and freshness,” expressed Steven Sang, Governor of Nandi County.

The governor stated that the approach will enable farmers from the region to establish a reputation for delivering clean and premium produce to international markets.

Also invited to the meeting were representatives from Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Railways, Kenya Association of Cargo International Consolidators, Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), and DHL, among others.

Source: Fresh Produce Middle East & Africa Magazine