New temperature-controlled train route from East Africa to Netherlands

Koga, Ethiopia: The first shipment of Ethiopian avocados has marked the development of a new temperature-controlled route by train from East Africa to the Netherlands.

The shipment took place on the 22 August when the reefer container carrying 24 tonnes of avocados was loaded onto the Ethio-Djibouti train from the terminal in Koga, Ethiopia, to a container terminal in Doralah, Djibouti, and then shipped to Europe.

The project is the result of a cooperation between the governments of Ethiopia, Djibouti and the Netherlands. According to a statement from the Djibouti Ports and Freezones Authority (DPFZA), it is the key step towards allowing the efficient transport of chilled goods.

Chairman of DPFZA Aboubaker Omar Hadi said: “This innovative cool supply chain Modjo-Djibouti-Europe for fruits, vegetables, flowers and other perishables will balance the trade and maximize the use of Ethio-Djibouti railway.”

The Port of Rotterdam Authority, which also participated in the project, said the shipment will be followed by “many others” as the East African economy grows and European demand for products such as avocados increases.

The sector has huge growth potential according to Tewodros Zewdie, executive director of the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer and Exporters Association.

“Fresh produce transport chains can be promoted by reducing transport costs and transport times,” Zewdie said.

“As a result, in ten years’ time we will be able to fill an entire train’s worth of reefer containers every week – and later even step up this frequency to five trains of temperature-controlled produce per week.”

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