There is a need to educate and empower farmers in the North Rift Region to plant high-value crops for export to maximize the use of Eldoret International Airport.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii said there was a ready market for high-value cash crops such as French beans, Broccoli and fruits such as avocado that are required internationally.
The governor stressed that horticultural producers in Uasin Gishu should fully utilize the existing Eldoret International Airport (EIA) by increasing the production of high-value crops for the export market.
The facility which is more than 25 years old has been mainly receiving imports and exporting minimal produce to the international market.
Speaking while on a tour of the airport to engage the airport management on how best to make use of the facility, Governor Bii expressed optimism that the region has the potential to realize exportation of their produce once more farmers venture into horticulture.
“It is clear that we have what it takes to champion for exports of our produce to the international market, what is only required is empowerment and education of our farmers on the best agricultural practices in order to package the best export cash crops from our county,” said Bii.
Uasin Gishu, and by extension neighbouring counties have favorable climatic conditions that give impetus for the production of avocadoes, French beans, and corn among other produce that is marketable in the international market.
“We are going to ensure that cargo planes that land at the airport carry back goods and produce from our farmers, this shall be made possible through engagements and understanding the required standards for exports,” he added.
Bii promised to champion the expansion of the runway in order to accommodate all types of aircraft and open up doors for international flights.
“My commitment to the citizens is that we shall ensure that the facility benefits the county. We have a ready international market and farmers should take advantage of this opportunity to grow the economy,” said the Governor.
Eldoret International Airport North Rift regional Manager Walter Agong said they will collaborate with the county in order to make sure that the facility is put to good use.
“We have ready warehouse and cold storage houses that are crucial for preserving our products before they are exported. The airport is well positioned as it has been confirmed that it is the closest route to Europe and the Middle East. Several airlines have already come in and willing to ensure that we transport enough cargo overseas,” he said.
Agong said they were looking forward to expanding the airport by an additional 500 metres of the runway so that all types of planes can utilize the facility.
“We are also partnering with private entities so that we can do modern transit shades, we have given the go-ahead for the two existing transit shades to be expanded so that we can accommodate more fresh produce,” said the manager.
He further said that the airport was changing its dynamics such that planes importing cargo leave the airport with export produce, “for a long time this airport has mostly been used for imports, within the last year 11 million kilogrammes of cargo was imported through Eldoret Airport, but we want to ensure in future planes leave with adequate produce from the region,” he added.
By Kiptanui Cherono