Following the ongoing Kenya Airways pilots' strike that has crippled the air travel industry, the government is considering alternative means to ferry fresh produce outside the country as the strike enters its third day.
According to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi , the deployment of special cargo aircraft is an approch the government is looking into to cushion the agriculture sector from incurring losses which he said may be amounting to a Kshs 200 million per day over the course of the strike.
Linturi intimated that the strike has affected the export of over 100 tonnes of produce , with 75 percent drawn from the horticultural sector and 25 percent is meat products.
“We have to ensure our exporters get support from the government to guarantee when there are such labour issues, we have an alternative,” said Linturi on Tuesday, November 8 during a stakeholder meeting in Nairobi.
This comes during a surge in demand for fruits, vegetables and flowers from the Kenyan market, with a 30 percent increase in export volumes recorded after the Covid-19 pandemic, which has spurred earnings despite lower average export prices compared to those in the peak of the pandemic in 2020.
The strike is hence a blow to the industry, as according to KQ Chief Executive Allan Kilavuka since the strike started on Saturday, the airline had not flown out any fresh produce to the key markets of the Middle East and Europe.
“On average, we carry we carry about 150 tonnes of produce,” said Kilavuka in a statement.
Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Chief Executive Okisegere Ojepat has urged the government to indulge the cargo pilots in special talks to come to a common ground to mitigate further losses that are affecting farmers in the country.
The industrial action by the pilots that has since been termed as unlawful is for the demand of the reinstatement of their provident fund, a pension plan that both pilots and KQ contribute to.