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Uganda coffee exports dropped 20 percent

Uganda coffee exports dropped 20 percent in April from the same month last year as a drop in prices made farmers reluctant to sell their stocks, but volumes may rise in the next two months, the industry regulator said on Wednesday.

An official at the state-run Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said the country, one of the top producers of the beans in Africa, shipped 141,220 60-kg bags in April, down from 176,561 bags in the same period last year.

"A kilo of arabica dry cherries was going for around 10,000 shillings in mid March, but as we speak it's down to about 7,000 shillings," said a UCDA official.

Exports of coffee constitute a key source of hard currency for Uganda, which is also gearing up to become a top-50 crude oil producer. It cultivates mostly the robusta variety.

Exports are likely to edge up again in the next two months as stocks build up in the south and south-western regions, where the harvest is ongoing, the official said.

The two regions account for 45 percent of all annual coffee output, while central and eastern Uganda produce the rest.

"Hopefully prices (will) improve soon, but even if they don't, farmers can't keep piling up stocks ... the harvest season will force them to start selling to create room for new stock," the official said.


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