BOOST TO BUSINESS

Governors agree to export from Eldoret airport

Investors already have put up storage facilities for fresh produce

In Summary

•The airline in the new route will have three weekly flights for a start before upgrading to daily flights later.

•Mandago assured operators at the facility of guaranteed business in the region.

CEO of the Fresh Produce Consortium Okisegere Ojepat speaking after a meeting with NOREB officials in Eldoret on February 19, 2021.
BOOST: CEO of the Fresh Produce Consortium Okisegere Ojepat speaking after a meeting with NOREB officials in Eldoret on February 19, 2021.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Governors in the north Rift have agreed to start exporting fresh produce from the Eldoret International Airport next month.

Since its establishment more than 25 years ago, the airport has been under-utilised, with cargo flights only landing at the facility to drop imports and leave empty.

“We have now agreed as stakeholders that we mobilise the farmers with produce and other stakeholders so that we can start the exports as from next month,” said Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno.

He spoke after a meeting of the county chiefs, agriculture officers from the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb) counties and officials from the Fresh Produce Consortium, led by CEO Okisegere Ojepat.

Others present included Nandi Deputy Governor Yulta Mitei and officials from the Kenya Airports Authority along with farmers who engage in fresh produce especially flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Investors already have put up storage facilities for fresh produce and Oisegere said the fresh produce will be airlifted to Europe and the Middle East.

The number of airlines operating at the Eldoret International Airport has increased to more than eight weekly but Governor for Uasin Gishu, Jackson Mandago, says the facility is still heavily under-utilised.

Mandago said counties under the North Rift Economic Bloc are investing in crop diversification by farmers so that they venture into production of fresh produce for export and hence increase usage of the airport.

 “There is need for the Eldoret International Airport to be equipped well so as to be able to handle more fresh produce like flowers because we are focusing on having our farmers invest in fresh produce,” said Mandago.

The governor says Eldoret is the economic hub of the region and the airport will also play a role in boosting the tourism sector in the region.

Mandago was at the airport a week ago during the launch of the inaugural East African Safari Air flights from Wilson Airport to Eldoret and Lodwar.

The airline in the new route will have three weekly flights for a start before upgrading to daily flights later.

Eldoret Airport will now have four weekly passenger flights and another four scheduled cargo flights weekly along with several other ad-hoc freighters per week.  The cargo flights will be use to  airlift the fresh produce.

Mandago assured the airline and other operators at the facility of guaranteed business in the region.

He also pointed out that Eldoret was key economic and business hub for not only North Rift region but also parts of East African countries within a huge potential for a growth in the air travel business.

“Eldoret hosts several other major government installations like the Kenya Pipeline, and we also have many business persons leaving Eldoret to Entebe almost on a daily basis which is an opportunity for business growth,” said Mandago.

He said there was need to further open up local air travel between major towns in the region so that investors reduce time wasted on road travel.