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The cold storage area at Mekelle airport is already getting business even though it doesn’t open until June.
Abergale International Livestock Development Private Limited Company is looking to restart its export of fresh meat through a cold storage area, at the Mekelle Alula Aba Nega International Airport which is expected to begin operating this June.
The storage can handle 150 tons of goods of perishable export items like flowers, fruits, vegetables and meat as well as fish caught from the Tekeze River and grapes from nearby wine farms.
Abergale doesn’t raise animals; instead it buys it from farmers’ cooperatives and traders from Tigray Amhara and Afar regional states. The animals are kept in four different locations where a veterinarian checks their quality before being taken to a slaughterhouse, then exported to various countries. The live stock consists of cattle, goats and sheep.
Gebre Egziabher Kidanu Marketing Department Head at the company said they export fresh meat and boneless frozen meat to Angola, Egypt and the tiny Indian Ocean Island of Comoros.
Other destinations include the Gulf countries of Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait as well as Jordan.
Gebre Egziabher said frozen meat remains good for 18-24 months in contrast to fresh meat which can stay a maximum of 11 hours before it goes bad.
The frozen boneless meat are exported through the port of Djibouti, transported directly from Mekele while the fresh meat products are sent from Mekele directly to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
The company said it received complaints from customers that the fresh meat products were losing their quality and taste. The transportation costs were also high which led it to suspend the exports until the Mekele International Airport cold storage becomes operational.
It is currently waiting for the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise to decide how much it will cost them to rent the storage area for the meat.
Abergale International Livestock Development PLC has a slaughterhouse with a capacity of accommodating 240 cattle, 960 goats and sheep every eight hours.
Mekelle as well as another city, Bahir Dar, located 783Km and 587Km north of Addis Ababa respectively, were targeted for the cold store project because investments outside of the capital were increasing and they needed to equate investments with infrastructure projects.
Ethiopian Airlines recently announced that it was going to start cargo flights direct from regional cities, Bahir Dar and Mekelle, to multiple European and Middle Eastern destinations. This will be the first time that the regional cities will host cargo flights for the flag carrier which currently uses its hub in the capital Addis Ababa for such departures.