Moi airport upgrade lifts exporters of fresh produce


Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya chief executive Ojepat Okisegere. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Sh7.5 billion infrastructural upgrade at Moi International Airport, Kenya’s second-largest airport has led to increased export of fresh produce.

The upgrade included the cargo terminal, cold room replacement of the airfield, ground lighting systems, and approaching lighting masts with fiberglass from the traditional steel.

Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK) Chief Executive Officer Okisegere Ojepat said the upgrading of the airport is a major boost to Kenya’s export of fresh produce to the international market.

Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) Coast Regional Manager Thomas Kosiom said there has been a steady rise in exports of fresh produce ranging from chilies, French beans, flowers, avocados and pineapples through the international airport.

Kephis is the government parastatal whose responsibility is to assure the quality of agricultural inputs and produce to prevent adverse impacts on the economy, the environment and human health.

"The destinations for these products have been Germany and the Netherlands which have provided good business,'' said Mr Kosiom.

The official urged Kenyan exporters to leverage the upgraded international airport to export mangoes, citrus, tomatoes, pineapple, passion, herbs, spices, pepper and bananas from the Coast region which have ready market internationally.

He spoke after supervision of the export of 13 tonnes of chilies shipped to Frankfurt in Germany by Invour Fresh, Forever Green Growers Limited, Phyma Fresh Produce Limited and Vermont Flowers Limited.

The chilies were grown by local Kenyan farmers and have ready markets in Germany and the Netherlands.

“We are sorting out our domestic market challenge. We are capacity building farmers and exporters through training and engaging the overseas market which is why export has increased. We are engaging Europe, Asia, the US, Australia and the Middle East to source for opportunities,” he said.

Mr Ojepat said the market is looking for a consistent supply of produce.

He urged all stakeholders involved in the horticulture supply chain to play their active roles to ensure they abide by the set standards for exports.

“We will be able to satisfy the global demand. Accountability is crucial for the foreign market. In the export market, they check the way the product is prepared and how it should be packaged. We must ensure we handle fresh produce to avoid contamination,” said Mr Ojepat.

He said that FPCK has teamed up with various agencies to support members to access international markets.

He called upon farmers to eye more foreign markets for their products to increase their earnings.

Mr Ojepat urged Kenyans to diversify their exports and stop over-reliance on traditional commodities like tea and coffee.

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