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November 28, 2010

Uganda coffee exports dip in October

by Fred Ojambo

Coffee exports from Uganda, Africa’s biggest producer of the robusta variety of the beans, fell 5.5 percent in October because of a smaller crop, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority said.

Shipments declined to 188,012 60-kilogram (132-pound) bags, from 199,011 bags a year earlier, the authority said today by e- mail from the capital, Kampala. Exports in October, the first month of the 2010-11 season, were higher than forecast because of “high closing stocks” from the previous season, the agency said.

Shipments in 2010-11 may increase 16 percent to 3.1 million bags because of expected favorable weather, David Kiwanuka, the authority’s spokesman, said in September. Ugandan coffee is mostly rain-fed because the bulk of the crop is grown by small- scale farmers who can’t afford irrigation.

Exports of coffee from the East African nation, which consumes only 3 percent of its crop, fell to 2.67 million bags last year from 3.06 million bags in 2008-09 after a drought reduced yields.

Output in Uganda slumped from more than 4 million bags in 1996-97 after coffee wilt disease destroyed part of the crop, according to the authority. New plantings and improving farm management may help the country boost output to 4.5 million bags by 2015, the authority says.

Uganda is Africa’s second-biggest exporter of coffee, after Ethiopia, according to theInternational Coffee Organization’s website. Robusta accounts for about 85 percent of the country’s annual output and the country earned $243.6 million from the crop last season, compared with $291.3 million in 2008-09, the authority said.

Bloomberg

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