Farmers eye direct Eldoret Airport for EU horticulture exports

Eldoret International Airport has resumed direct exports to the European market of cut flowers from the North Rift region as it seeks to turn around the fortunes of the local farmers and boost the regional economy.

The facility has partnered with Ethiopian Airlines to export the fresh produce to European markets such as Belgium and the Netherlands. “For many years, farmers have been transporting their produce by the road which means extra costs, but this is a game-changer in the horticultural sector as it will significantly lower costs,” said Walter Agong, the airport’s manager.

“Farmers are excited about this new milestone and we are targeting to increase volumes from current five tonnes per week to 15 to over 20 tonnes starting this week, five tonnes in each of the three flights in a week.”

On November 30th, the facility launched its inaugural exports of the first batch of five tonnes of cut flowers through the international airport. In the last two weeks, the facility has exported over 10 tonnes of the produce.

Data from the airport shows that at its peak, in 2006, 956 tonnes of agricultural produce were exported via the facility, but since 2009, the airport has largely been used for passenger movement and import of goods such as electronics and textile for local and regional markets.

Flower farms and other fresh produce in the North Rift region of Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia counties have been transporting their produce by road to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for export. Charles Mwita, the head of marketing at the Eldoret International Airport, said that with the direct exports of the produce, it will help cut costs and maintain the quality of the produce.

“We are keen to start exports of other agricultural produce like avocados, currently we have limited space for the exports by the airline but they have promised us that from next year January we will get more space to export local agricultural produce,” he said.

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