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November 04, 2009

Ugandan coffee exports rise

by Fred Ojambo

Coffee exports from Uganda, Africa’s biggest producer of the robusta variety, rose 11 percent in October, the first month of the 2009-10 season, as farmers and dealers released supplies following an improvement in prices, the state-run Uganda Coffee Development Authority said.

Shipments increased to 199,011 60-kilogram (132-pound) bags, from 179,564 bags a year earlier, the Kampala-based authority said today in a draft report. Exports surpassed an earlier forecast of 180,000 bags, it said.

“Farmers and traders released more stocks to benefit from the recovering prices,” an authority spokesman said. “There were some good carryover stocks from last season in the market.”

Robusta for January delivery prices climbed 2.8 percent last month to $1,431 a metric ton on the Liffe exchange in London.

Ugandan exports in the 2009-10 season, which started on Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 30, may increase by as much as 11 percent to a range of 3.3 million to 3.4 million bags, from 3.06 million bags last season, David Kiwanuka, a spokesman for the authority, said on Oct. 12.

Exports last season fell 4.8 percent to 3,057,970 bags after a drought cut yields, the authority said on Oct. 13. Uganda experienced a water shortage earlier this year that the Agriculture Ministry attributes to climate change.

New plantings and improving farm management have helped the East African country boost coffee output from 2 million bags in 2005-06, according to the authority. The country consumes less than 3 percent of its crop, while the rest is exported, mainly to Europe.

Uganda is Africa’s second-biggest producer of coffee, after Ethiopia. Robusta accounts for about 85 percent of annual output and the country earned $291.2 million from coffee exports in 2008-09.


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