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September 30, 2010

Good weather may push Ugandan coffee exports 15% up over projections

by Fred Ojambo

Coffee shipments from Uganda, Africa’s largest exporter of the beans, may rise 15 percent during the 2010-11 season because of better weather and improved crop husbandry methods, according to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority.

Exports in the 12 months through September 2011 may rise to 3.1 million 60-kilogram (132-pound) bags, from the 2.7 million bags expected this season, said David Kiwanuka, spokesman for the Kampala-based authority on September 20.

“The upward projection is based on the relatively good weather compared to 2009,” he wrote. Uganda’s coffee is largely dependent on rainfall for water because of a lack of irrigation capacity by the nation’s small-scale farmers who produce more than 95 percent of the country’s output.

Coffee production in the 2010-11 season may also be boosted by the improved prices received by farmers during the second half of this season, which has allowed them to invest in improving crop husbandry methods, Kiwanuka said.

Exports in 2009-10 may decline to 2.7 million bags from 3.06 bags in 2008-09 after a drought cut yields. Shipments from Oct. 1 through August fell 13 percent to 2.5 million bags, the authority has said.

Ugandan production slumped from more than 4 million bags in 1996-97 after coffee wilt disease destroyed plants. New planting and improving farm management may help the country boost output to 4.5 million bags by 2015, the authority has said.

The East African nation is the continent’s second-largest coffee producer, after Ethiopia. Robusta accounts for about 85 percent of Uganda’s annual output.


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