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July 20, 2009

Ethiopian coffee exports fall to six-year low after drought

by Jason McLure

Coffee exports from Ethiopia, Africa’s largest producer of the beans, fell 28 percent to the lowest level in six years after a drought cut harvests.

Coffee shipments fell 22 percent to 133,993 metric tons from 170,888 tons a year ago, the lowest since fiscal 2003, when they measured 126,100 tons, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in an e-mailed statement, dated July 17. Coffee earnings declined to $375.8 million in the fiscal year through July 7 from $525.2 million a year earlier, it said.

Exports of all products from Africa’s second-most populous nation fell 2.4 percent to $1.45 billion, according to the ministry. Rising sales of oilseeds, mainly sesame, helped offset declining coffee revenue, it said.

Oilseed earnings rose 60 percent to $354.7 million as the country shipped 287,334 tons of the seeds during the fiscal year, from 160,955 a year earlier, the ministry said. Exports of khat, a narcotic leaf popular in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, rose 29 percent to $139.2 million. Flower exports rose 17 percent to $130.7 million.


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