Ethiopia exports first avocados by train

28 Aug 2020

Europe will soon discover the delicious fruit and vegetables Ethiopia has to offer!

On 22nd August, Ethiopia carried out its first export of avocados by train from Modjo Dry Port, under a pilot project forming part of the National Cool Logistics Network.

The 24-tonne refrigerated consignment, which marks a major milestone in the development of a cool logistics corridor by sea, was produced by dozens of farmers in the Koga area, south of Bahir Dar, and packed by KogaVeg Agricultural Development. After the 750km train journey, the fruit will be shipped from Djibouti to Europe, taking around 20 days.

At the inauguration ceremony, Ethiopia’s transport Minister, H.E. Dagmawit Moges, said the project highlighted the government’s commitment to improving the country’s logistics infrastructure to support fruit and vegetable production and exports.

“This innovative cool supply chain Modjo-Djibouti-Europe for fruits, vegetables, flowers and other perishables will balance the trade and maximise the use of the Ethio-Djibouti railway”, said Aboubakar Omar Hadi, chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, and a member of the Cool Logistics Steering Committee overseeing the cool logistics projects in Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Ethiopia has significant potential to develop its production and export of fresh produce. The country has plenty of available arable land, a perfect climate for horticulture and is strategically located between Europe, the Middle East and Asia. By drastically reducing transport costs and lead times, investment in cool logistics could unlock the perishable industry.

“The fruit and vegetable sector in Ethiopia has the potential to become the next flower sector” said Tewodros Zewdie, executive director of the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association.

As well as increasing foreign currency earnings, unlocking the horticulture sector would create a positive impact on the country in a number of ways, such as providing a higher income for farmers than traditional crops and improving the availability of nutritious food for local consumers.

In the Koga region alone, about 10,000 smallholder families own a farm that is suitable for growing avocados. The fruit is grown organically, without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers.

Another key component of the National Cool Logistics Network is the development of Cool Port Addis, a cold-storage facility integrated into a railway terminal near Addis Ababa. At this facility, produce from the hinterland is consolidated into reefer containers to be put on the train to Djibouti. The warehouse will also be used for national and regional distribution.

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