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State unveils Master plan to export horticultural produce by sea

Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs Salim Mvurya and European Union Ambassador Henriette Geiger have kicked off plans to facilitate the shift in exportation of horticultural produce from air to sea freight.

A meeting at the Port of Mombasa yesterday signified the official start of engagements to map out pathways towards moving more horticultural exports by sea.

Successful implementation of the plans in the next ten years will see 50 per cent of Kenya’s horticulture produce exported through the sea. The move will reduce the carbon footprint and the cost of exports.

Already, several larger companies have started to use sea freight for the export of flowers, vegetables, and fruits, but the sector is now aiming for a transformative and larger shift.

The transition is supported by the Netherlands, Denmark, the European Union, TradeMark Africa (TMA), the Kenyan government, and the private sector.

The transition from air to sea freight comes in the wake of calls by consumers of horticulture produce who have been calling for a radical shift to facilitate delivery of fresh produce to their supermarket shelves and dining tables in Europe.

“The Kenya Kwanza government, through the Bottom Up Transformation Agenda (BETA), has to create an enabling environment for investments, and that is why it is very important for all of us to take notice of the transition from air freight to sea freight,’’ said CS Salim Mvurya.

He went on, “We in the Blue Economy sector are more than happy and willing to support this initiative because the reason that we have a stand-alone ministry of Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs is for Kenya to be able to realize her potential in the Blue Economy sector.”

CS Mvurya underscored the government’s commitment to supporting sea freight; he divulged that in the next few weeks, the CS for Transport will travel to the Netherlands to sign an official agreement to push forward the transition.

“The transition resonates well with the kind of investments around the port of Mombasa because the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is just across.

This transition will be very critical in inspiring other investments within the SEZ,’’ he said, exuding confidence that the transition will be seamless and the country will reap a lot of benefits.

“The transition from air freight to sea freight will have to go hand in hand with the private sector. It is important to create export volumes, optimize systems, and foster innovations in port development,” said the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kenya, Mr. Maarten Brouwer.

His Dutch counterpart, Mr. Ole Thonke, thanked the Netherlands, EU Ambassadors, and the Government of Kenya for taking the lead in providing support to Kenya’s green transformation of its export of horticultural products.

“It will be good both for Kenya and for importing countries like Denmark. We look very much forward to active participation first in the mapping of the opportunities, engaging the private sector in Kenya as well as in Denmark, and later in contributing to the implementation of the transformation,” said the Ambassador.

The European Union Ambassador, Henriette Geiger, termed the shift a step in the right direction in the clamor for climate change action.

“A more sustainable export of Kenya’s horticulture goods is essential to ensure the growth of the sector in the future and all the jobs and livelihoods that depend on it,’’ she said.

KPA MD Captain William Ruto said the transition to sea freight will reduce the cost of doing business for exporters and increase the volume of exports, which will boost revenue at the port.

To support the shift to sea freight, KPA has installed a total of 1,131 reefer points around the port of Mombasa and Nairobi Inland Container Depot, where the reefer containers are plugged and awaiting loading.

“Further plans are underway, together with our key development partner, Trade Mark Africa, to increase the number of reefer points in the port to facilitate this process,’’ said Capt. Ruto added that a priority lane for tracks loaded with reefer containers has been introduced during entry to the port and at the scanning area.

To ensure quick track turn-around time, KPA has introduced a priority lane for tracks loaded with reefer containers at the port entry and scanning areas.

By Sadik Hassan

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