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Uganda eyes 4m bags of coffee

Monday January 24, 2011

UGANDA expects good coffee prices to support the Government’s aim of boosting output to a targeted 4.5 million 60-kg bags of exported coffee annually by 2015. This would be rise from a forecast 3.1 million bags in 2010/11, the regulator said.

Uganda is one of Africa’s major exporters of coffee. Earnings from the crop are a key source of foreign exchange inflows for east Africa’s third-largest economy. Ugandan farmers mostly cultivate the Robusta bean. “The prevailing prices favour the coffee production campaign, which envisages Uganda’s export production hitting 270,000 tonnes (4.5 million bags) by 2015,” the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said in a report.

The government campaign targets helping farmers access cheap credit and agricultural inputs as well as funding research into high-yielding hybrid coffee plants.

Uganda’s coffee output peaked in the late 1990s when the country exported an average of 4.2 million bags annually. However, disease ravaged subsequent crops, cutting output to a low of 2 million bags in the 2005/2006 (Oct-Sep) season.

UCDA forecasts Uganda will export 3.1 million bags in the 2010/2011 season from last year's 2.67 million bags.

Farm gate prices have risen to average sh2,000 ($0.844) per kilogram of dry, unprocessed Robusta beans from sh1,700 in October, the regulator said. It added Uganda’s Robusta exports have been declining because of unfavourable weather conditions and outbreaks of pests.

Uganda earned $28.69m from 237,747 bags exported in December, which was a 30.6 percent rise from earnings in the same month a year ago, UCDA said in the report.

In the first quarter of the 2010/2011 (Oct-Dec) coffee year, Uganda shipped 692,485 bags, down from 705,277 exported in the same quarter last season.

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