Why Kenya is shifting horticultural exports to sea freight
Kenya has started plans to shift half of its horticultural exports from air to sea freight in the next 10 years in an effort to cut emissions and lower costs.
The shift will help lower both Kenya’s carbon footprint and make the produce competitive in overseas markets. Horticulture is one of the country’s top forex earner. The industry generated Kes152.3 billion in earnings last year.
Whereas air freight is faster and more reliable in exporting cargo, it is too costly, environmentally harmful and transports much less volute compared to sea freight.
Currently, a number of exporters in Kenya’s flowers, vegetables and fruit segment have started using sea freight for shipments.
Kenya’s shift to adopt sea freight systems is being backed by the Netherlands, Denmark and the European Union (EU), TradeMark Africa (TMA) with the Kenyan Government and a number of private sector players.
The kick-off session at the Port of Mombasa marked the official start of engagements to map out the country’s pathways towards shipping more horticultural exports by sea.
“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 Netherlands to Kenya, Mr Maarten Brouwer.
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Denmark’s Ambassador to Kenya Ole Thonke lauded the Netherlands, EU Ambassadors and the Government of Kenya for taking the lead in providing support to the country’s green transformation of its export of horticultural produce.
“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 to contributing to the implementation of the transformation,” said Ambassador Ole Thonke.
The EU Ambassador Henriette Geiger said, “The sector is ripe for an urgent and radical transition from air to sea freight, more than ever as a step in the right direction in the clamour for climate change action. Our support is directly related to the EU Green Deal which aims, among other things, to make the economy and trade more sustainable and part of the EU Global Gateway. A more sustainable export of Kenya’s horticulture goods is essential to ensure the growth of the sector in the future and all jobs and livelihoods that depend on it.”
Studies show that air freight constitutes about 2.5 percent of global carbon emissions, despite ferrying just 1 percent of total global cargo. In contrast, sea freight produces about 2.9 percent of carbon emissions and accounts for over 80 percent of global trade by volume and 70 percent by value.