Chili farmer to benefit from cargo flight

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Photo:LolweTv//Balminder Sokhi, a chili farmer in Siaya.

A large-scale green chili farmer in Siaya County is set to benefit from the planned inaugural of a cargo export flight from Kisumu International Airport this weekend.

Balminder Singh Sokhi, who has put four hectares of land under green chili, says for the last three months he has been transporting his produce to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for export.

Sokhi says the inaugural flight will be a game changer to Western Kenya farmers.

“Actually, this is a game changer for all of us in this region. For the last three months, I have really suffered by transporting from farm to JKIA, and I have paid through my nose,” he said.

He says he is going to save a lot of money in terms of transport for his produce. 

Sokhi says the opportunity presented by the unveiling of the cargo flight by Kenya Airways on Saturday must be grabbed by any investor and even small scale farmers.

“We are so excited that finally we have cargo going from Kisumu so that we can get our brothers and sisters from the neighboring towns, let them know that we have an opportunity now to export,” he said.

He has his farm located in Gem Sub County in Nyabeda village along Kisumu Busia Road.

Sokhi says he does not regret venturing into farming after abandoning his engineering work.

“I was doing mechanical engineering and automobile and due to late payments from the sugar mills, I abandoned the business before a friend in the UK tipped me to export chilies,” he said.

He says he is ready to assist farmers in the region who are ready to embrace chili farming and buy from them for export.

Sokhi says he harvests chillie every month and does not require much water, noting that it is not labour intensive.  

He has a permanent workforce of five with casuals ranging from 20 to 80 based on need arises.

Sokhi says he is working closely with officials from Kenya Health Plant Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) to ensure standards of the produce are met.

“We have the KEPHIS, they will come to inspect, because you have to comply with the rules and regulations, normally they visit my farm twice a month,” he said.

He says this is aimed at dealing with some pests that invade the farms and might find their way into foreign countries.

On Friday, he will harvest 1.8 tonnes of fresh green chili that will be transported via Kisumu International Airport on Saturday.

By Joseph Ojwang