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September 19, 2010

Burundi coffee output may be below forecast after drought

by Fred Ojambo and Fidele Bigiramana

Coffee production in Burundi, which relies on the crop for half its export earnings, may be as much as 26 percent less than forecast this year after a drought cut yields, the industry regulator said.

Output may be 23,000 to 25,000 metric tons, compared with an earlier estimate of 31,000 tons, Jeremie Ndikumana, a marketing officer at the Burundi Coffee Regulatory Authority, known as Ocibu, said in an interview on Aug. 13 from the capital, Bujumbura. The revised forecast is four times higher than the 6,000 tons produced last year.

Yields were lower than anticipated because some coffee trees didn’t fully recover from last year’s drought in the Central African country, he said.

Production slumped in 2009 from 25,000 tons a year earlier because of the drought. Output had risen in 2008 after a 15-year insurgency ended when rebel fighters signed peace accords with the government.

At least 11,392 tons of green beans, or half the revised projection, was processed by Aug. 8, Ndikumana said. Fully washed coffee accounted for 3,946.4 tons, while the rest was semi-washed coffee, he said.

Burundi consumes less than 3 percent of its coffee, which is reaped from March to July, and exports the rest. Agriculture generates about 44 percent of economic output in the East African country, according to the African Development Bank.


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