The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Eldoret Airport to Spur Horticultral Farming in North Rift, Western Region

The government plans to increase cargo handling at the Eldoret International Airport as part of improving the airport's performance.

Agriculture minister Sally Kosgey says the government will role out a plan that will see farmers in the North Rift and Western Kenya regions use the airport to export their horticultural crops and flowers.

The minister has directed the Horticultural Crops Development Authority to help educate farmers on how they can diversify their farming and venture into horticultural farming to increase production.

The new initiatives are being implemented after Kosgey met with farmers and organisation that are involved in farming at the airport last month.

"We want our farmers to increase their crop production and venture into the horticultural business for export," said the minister.

"It's a new area where our farmers are yet to fully exploit their potential."

Kenya Airways has announced that it will soon introduce cargo flights which will connect Eldoret airport to European and the Middle East markets.

Dominic Biwott, who is a manager at the Canken International, which operates storage facilities at the airport said the KQ's plan will help exporters connect with other airlines in the European markets.

"It will boost the export of vegetables, fruits and flowers to European and the Middle East markets," said Biwott.

The airport has only been handling cargo imports because of lack of export cargo. Planes carrying electronic and textiles material have been landing at the airport, but they take off without cargo for export.

Kenya Airports Authority will help in marketing the airport as a agricultural produce export destination.

"We are working on strategies to brand our town and the airport will be one of the landmarks we intend to use in the re-branding strategy," said Eldoret Mayor William Rono.

Rono said farmers in the region should take advantage of the airport ad venture into exports trade instead of relying on maize and wheat protection.

The Mayor who was speaking at his office said they would work with other stakeholders to market the agricultural potential in the Eldoret region.

Some of the established farmers who ventured into the exports have been directly using road transport to move cargo to Nairobi before external airlifts to the markets through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

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