Ebonyi State’s Airport Almost Ready For Air Cargo Operations and Exporting Agricultural Produce

by Ikem Emmanuel
Ebonyi State’s Journey to Air Cargo Operations and Exporting Agricultural Produce

The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Aviation, Ngozi Obichukwu, has revealed that the state’s airport is nearing readiness for air cargo operations, with a focus on streamlining export processes, particularly for agricultural produce.

A recent visit by members of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria’s (FAAN) Aviacargo Roadmap Committee to Ebonyi Airport shed light on the state’s ambitions for the facility. Ambassador Ikechi Uko, the Coordinator of the Aviacargo Roadmap Committee, stressed the need to increase the volume of cargo, especially agricultural products, for foreign exchange earnings and job creation.

Obichukwu highlighted Ebonyi’s exceptional agricultural output, including groundnuts, rice, palm oil, yam, and salt, all of which are renowned globally. Despite this abundance, the challenge has been exporting these goods efficiently.

The strategic location of Ebonyi’s airport allows for easy access to neighboring states such as Cross River, Abia, Enugu, Benue, and even Cameroon. The state’s proximity to Cameroon is particularly noteworthy as it facilitates rice exports, currently transported via land, but the state is keen to expedite the process by utilizing air cargo services.

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The Ebonyi State Airport was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in May, during the tenure of former Governor David Umahi, marking the beginning of flight operations. However, issues related to the airport’s concrete runway emerged, causing disruptions for incoming aircraft. The current Governor has taken proactive steps to reconstruct the runway, with completion expected in the next five months.

Ambassador Ikechi Uko emphasized that Nigeria, despite having 20 cargo airports, faces challenges in exporting goods as they often spoil or go to waste on farms. To tackle this issue, the Aviacargo Roadmap Committee has examined the practices of countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Ghana in cargo exportation.

The key to success, Uko explained, lies in understanding the international market’s needs, adhering to standard processes for cultivating crops, and ensuring traceability. Knowing the source of produce and its origin is crucial for international consumers to trust the quality and safety of the products.

In a bid to enhance Nigeria’s position in the air cargo business in Africa, there is a growing recognition of the need to maximize the potential of the nation’s airports, like the one in Ebonyi, to facilitate the efficient export of agricultural goods and bolster the economy.

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