Government should take lead in enabling perishable sector growth: Perishable Logistics Africa 2017

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Themed ‘Creating Africa’s future logistics grid for perishables’, the first edition of Perishable Logistics Africa 2017 had a full house deliberating on the challenges and solutions to enhance Africa’s perishable trade.

The experts on the panels called for all stakeholders to join hands in resolving the hindrances that the industry is currently undergoing. Collaborating with each other in the value chain would be critical in finding a smoother growth path for perishables.

“Industry has become a victim of its own success,” said Jane Ngige, CEO, Kenya Horticulture Council. She added, “We are not collaborating enough. It is crucial that we find a binding thread to bring in collaboration. To make it work, empowering associations in the perishable value chain is very essential. But who will take the lead? The business belongs to the farmers, as owners of the cargo, they should take the lead.”

Peter Musola, the cargo commercial manager at Kenya Airways, opinioned, “Government should take the lead, as policies are critical for any industry to grow. It depends on how the governments drive the policy.

Industry collaboration is more complex than it appears to be. We should look at forming joint working groups of different stakeholders, and they should come up with resolutions for the impediments.”

“We need to avoid the cumbersome processes locally through export documentation processes. Let us work together with the public sectors to reach our desired potentials. We need to have an open discussion on air cargo high rates to end the disconnect between the shipper and the carriers,” opinioned Conrad Archer, MD, Panalpina Africa.

The perennial question of wastage and who takes the responsibility was another topic which was discussed at the conference that was hosted at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi.

The airlines clarified by stating that they assume the responsibility once the cargo lands in the hands of their handlers at the airport. However, lack of documentation from the growers’ side is the main challenge to complete the compensation process in the event of cargo damages.

Though the participants raised their concern over the laborious process of documentation, the panellists emphasised on the importance of documentation while shipping the product. An improved logistics chain is what the growers are aiming for and with better support from the stakeholders of the value chain to scale the business to the next level.

Organised by Logistics Update Africa, the event was sponsored by Saudia Cargo, Holland Flower Alliance, Kenya Airways Cargo, Africa Flight Services, Astral Aviation, Network Aviation Group, Liege Airport, Flower Watch.

The conference was also supported by industry association such as Kenya Flower Council (KFC), Cool Chain Association (CCA), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association (EHPEA), The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH), Union Fleurs – the international flower trade association, Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA) and WCA Perishables.