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September 19, 2010

Uganda coffee shipments decline

by Fred Ojambo

Coffee shipments from Uganda, Africa’s biggest exporter of the beans, fell 18 percent in August after a drought cut yields, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority said.

Shipments declined to 217,284 60-kilogram (132-pound) bags from 266,245 bags in July and 260,275 bags a year earlier, the Kampala-based agency said. Exports were 13 percent below an earlier forecast of 250,000 bags, the agency said.

“We didn’t realize our projection because of a shorter crop due to the drought,” the agency said. “The yield in the southern and southwestern regions was lower than anticipated.”

Uganda experienced a drought last year and earlier this year that the Agriculture Ministry attributed to climate change. The East African nation is the continent’s second-largest producer of coffee, after Ethiopia. Robusta accounts for about 85 percent of Uganda’s annual output.

Exports in the 12 months through September may decline to 2.7 million bags, from the 2.8 million announced in June, the authority said on Aug. 12.

Shipments from Oct. 1 through August fell 12 percent to 2,503,896 bags, according to a tally by Bloomberg News.

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

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