New fresh produce distribution centre near Addis Ababa could make it easier for suppliers of avocados and other fresh produce to reach international export markets

Avocados from Ethiopia are among a number of products that stand to benefit from Cool Port Addis, a new cold-chain facility for perishable products close to Addis Ababa.

That’s according to Flying Swans, a Dutch company that specialises in the development of refrigerated supply chains in developing countries of East Africa.

This week, Ethiopia secured a €11.7m grant from the Netherlands to begin the project’s first phase of development at Modjo Dry Port, the country’s primary inland terminal, 50km south-east of the capital.

Once the facility is ready, suppliers stand to benefit from Modjo’s direct rail connection to the Port of Djibouti, from where the fruit will shipped to export markets.

The Modjo centre is one of three consolidation centres that the company plans to build. The other two logistics projects are in Kenya and Tanzania.

“The structure and the concept is basically the same [for each],” explains Tom Bouwman, senior project manager at Flying Swans. “A collection centre for fresh produce, mainly fruits, vegetables and flowers for export. And also a packhouse – sorting, grading, and packing for export, loading reefer containers, and a direct connection to the railway.”

A shift from truck to rail for inland distribution is at the heart of its plans, Bouwman adds. “We develop end-to-end services from farmers to the final overseas destination. Our role is project development of the infrastructure, which can be used not only for export but also for import consolidation and domestic and regional distribution to supermarkets, hotels and local markets.”