Boost for farmers as Kisumu airport to fly fresh produce

kisumu air

Kisumu International Airport. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kisumu International Airport is scheduled to have its inaugural freight of fresh produce by January 8.

This follows expansion of the airport to encompass a cargo handling and cold storage facility through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).

The Kisumu Lakefront Development Corporation (KLDC) Chairman FCPA Edward Ouko said farmers and fishermen in Kisumu and the lake region will benefit immensely from the new development.

The corporation, which seeks to promote investment, trade and tourism, held a consultative meeting with stakeholders from the public and private sector in a bid to bring to fruition an initiative to support stakeholders involved in the development and usage of air cargo transportation.

The meeting brought together the Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Airways, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services, Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya and Kenya Revenue Authority.

"The expansion of Kisumu International Airport is an essential element for the development of the region and county as it gives hope to farmers and fishermen in the area and signals a pragmatic approach to cooperation, grounded in the priorities of the Kenyan Government at the national and regional levels,"said Mr Ouko.

The establishment of a cargo village at the airport will unite cargo airlines, freight forwarders, farmers, fish traders and airports to identify opportunities, generate new business and add additional frequencies into the avaition market.

“We have the resources to do better. We need a different focus, rather than the simplistic import substitution policy, with a different set of agriculture and aquaculture objectives ,”Mr Ouko stated.

The cold storage is owned by Munira Gilani, a local investor, and will eventually be established as fully fledged cargo division and cold chain logistics at the Kisumu International Airport.

Ms Gilani said the facility, which was closed four years ago, will provide added processing to create value addition, allign fish production to the demands in markets and government institutions and most importantly, open up export markets.

She noted that the situation of fish production and consumption illustrates the lack of a coherent policy.

"Our fisheries and agricultural policy need to be more suitable to a global, technology-driven world. Moving forward, we should be laser-focused and provide support to agricultural products which have export markets and value-added potential," said Ms Gilani.

"Our fish, chilies, mango, pineapple, peanuts, avocado, traditional green vegetables and organic beef could give us the best global competitive advantage because of our unique regional position."

Aqua Rech CEO Dave Okech said the cooling plant gives huge potential for local fish farmers in the Lake Region.

"It is a good step but the county governments need to focus on boosting fish production in the region for the export market," said Mr Okech.

Meanwhile the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) has released land at the old Kisumu Airport to pave way for Tradewinds Aviation Services Limited to establish the cargo transit shed.

KAA general manager, marketing and business development Jimmy Kibati said the private firm mandated to construct the cargo shed has already presented designs for a transit shed for processing exports and imports.