Air freight problems hit Kenyan fruit exporters as EU orders rise

A shortage of fruits and vegetables has hit parts of the European market, compelling countries to reopen orders cancelled following the emergence of Covid-19. Local Kenyan exporters are now getting orders for vegetables and fruits such as avocado from countries like UK, France, Belgium and Germany according to Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC).

However, challenge remains low space for ferrying the consignments given most airlines have grounded operations because of the pandemic.

“We are getting massive orders for vegetables and fruits but we are facing a serious shortage of space on freight carriers,” said the chief executive officer of FPC Ojepat Okesegere.

He said cargo flights ferrying produce to Europe are few. Most of the countries in Europe are on a lockdown where movement has been restricted except for essential purposes such as buying food.

Apart from domestic supplies, European countries rely on America and Africa to boost stocks. The US is in a state of a lockdown extended to April 30 by President Donald Trump, following a sharp increase in the number of people affected by coronavirus.

Businessdailyafrica.com reported that, because of the closure of the world’s largest auction in Amsterdam, Kenyan flower farms are stuck with cargo as only a fraction is sold to European countries through direct sales. Oserian Flower Farms is now relying on direct markets to sell.

“We are depending on direct sales to a few countries to make our sales following the closure of the auction,” said Mary Kinyua, director of human resource at the flower company.


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