Food producers, KQ in Gulf cargo transport deal

Food producers, KQ in Gulf cargo transport deal

Horticulture producers have negotiated a cargo transport deal with Kenya Airways to export chilli, peas and passion fruits to the United Arab Emirates, with the first batch of export expected next month.

Kenya Airways is set to start bi-monthly horticulture cargo flights from Kisumu International Airport to the Gulf nation, according to the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC-Kenya).

The UAE market is important given that Kenya lost the lucrative European market due to quarantine pests that were found in Kenya’s consignment that were shipped to the EU in 2018.

The emergence of false codling moths and armyworms in Kenya restricted access to the EU market after the union imposed stringent measures.

“We have negotiated with Kenya Airways and it should be starting two monthly flights to UAE starting February,” said FPC-Kenya chief executive Okisegere Ojepat.

UAE market, on the other hand, does not have stringent measures like the EU which has tough phytosanitary guidelines.

Mr Ojepati said Kenya would join hands with Uganda and Tanzania to shore up the volumes for the produce to fill a cargo plane. The consignment from the two countries will be ferried through the newly opened port of Kisumu.

Close to 90 percent of the firms that used to export chilli to Europe eye alternative markets because of the presence of these pests. For exporters to meet the requirements for the European lucrative market, they need to put in place a costly mechanism to contain the pest.

These include fumigation using phosphine gas, creating pest free zones that have to be approved by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service or exporting dry chilli.

However, most firms are avoiding this option because dried chilli exports do not fetch a good price as fresh ones.

The plans by KQ to start direct flights to UAE comes hot in the heels of a recently launched cargo flight to London after the expansion of the Kisumu International Airport that is now set to attract more carriers.

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