To enhance the fruit and vegetable export through vessel, WoubGet Business Group, a leader on the inland horticulture logistics sector, gears to establish a handling hub at an investment injection of 350 million birr. The procured reefer containers by the Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics (ESL) from China are expected to arrive in the first week of April to accelerate the export of perishable goods.
Ethiopia’s set target to expand fruits and vegetable production and export of the commodities is now taking shape following its backing by sea freight.
The consignment of perishable cargos through vessels is highly recommended since it has a competitive edge in the global market. This, make or break issue has over time been frequently raised by Ethiopian fresh producers and exporters like fruit and vegetable sector actors.
The government, in a bid to tackle the issue has been carrying out different initiatives and several pilot operations to export perishable commodities through vessels that are packed in reefer containers. As part of the initiative, Ethiopian avocados have been exported to the European market, which is expected to expand in the coming seasons.
According to founder and owner of WoubGet, the firm is en route to obtaining the machines to align with the upcoming avocado harvest from the Oromia region and will install its facility adjacent to the Ethio-Djibouti railway line to handle commodities for export.
As Dawit Woubishet, Director of WoubGet Business Group, explains, the firm’s logistic wing, Flowerport Perishable Plc, has been engaged on the transport of flowers from farms to airport for close to two decades. “Prior to that, the Ethiopian Airlines was fully engaged in the handling of the flower export through Tradepath International Plc, which is one of the seven companies under WoubGet, which chartered flights to transport the perishable products to European destinations.”
He said that currently his logistics company handles 70 percent of the inland transport of flower products from farm to airport.
“Throughout time we have developed our capacity to handle the logistics of perishables and now we are transformed to undertake the business a notch higher,” Dawit said.
He said that currently the avocado, banana and other vegetables production is expanding, “So to facilitate the export of the stated commodities it needs additional mode of transport, that is, a vessel. As a result, we are now preparing to start the export in collaboration with Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics (ESL) through railway line to ship via vessels.”
To undertake the new operation reefer container is crucial, while handling facility is a major venture to be established to handle the business, according to the logistics expert.
Dawit explained that the fruits and vegetables development is currently being undertaken through small and differently located cluster farming that needs to be managed as a collective process as per the required standard and quality.
“The facility will unite the collection of commodities to a centralized place where the handling facility will then process and pack the perishables for the shipment,” he elaborated.
Based on Flowerport’s Perishable plan, the handling facility which will have a value adding processing plant will be erected around Mojo adjacent to the dry port.
Dawit said that his company has tabled a 20,000 square meter land request from the Oromia region to install the plant that will have a processing plant and cold chain.
“We are planning to install the plant ahead of the upcoming avocado harvest season that will be in August,” he said.
As per different studies, over 30 percent of agricultural products were damaged on the way to collection and transportation from farm land to market destinations, “the main reason for that is the lack of proper handling, so we are planning to reduce the damage rate.”
The lower damage aspect on product handling shall make the product to be competitive in terms of price, quality and destination.
Currently, the perishable logistics company has 20 reefer trucks but it has also targeted to add another 20 different size trucks including small vehicles that shall collect commodities down to the farm cluster with high quality.
The company which is known as the leader with its cold trucks also targets to buy 10 reefer containers on the aim to accelerate the new coming export commodity that the country designed as a target to be an alternative for the hard currency in the coming years.
The 350 million birr investment is partly financed by the Development Bank of Ethiopia.
So far ESL has established a cold chain at its Mojo Dry Port facility.
Roba Megersa, CEO of ESL, recently told Capital that ESLSE has already facilitated two hectares of a dedicated terminal at Mojo for reefer cargo handling and power plug-in service.
The enterprise has also bought 30 forty feet MGSS reefer containers and mounted generators that are loaded on the Jigjiga vessel is expected to arrive in Djibouti on April 7.
According to Demsew Benti, Public Relations Head at ESL, the procurement has included the all required equipment to operate the cold containers.
The generators are the equipment that will be fixed on vessels to support the cooling process on the voyage of reefer containers to their destinations.
He said that in total, the latest procurement consumed USD 976,500 or USD 32,550 per container.
“We will continue to add more reefer containers in the future,” Demsew told Capital.
The public logistics giant is currently using leased reefer containers for commodities, mostly those at the trial stage.
Recently, Roba expressed that the enterprise is opting to buy the reefer to support the export rather than for revenue-oriented purposes, “This initiative is not for profit-oriented purposes but we want to support the export of perishables.”
Besides the 30 reefer containers, an additional eight are under production stage to be handed over to the logistics enterprise.