18 February 2013

Uganda: Coffee Exports Slumber in 2012

Kampala — Coffee exports for the period (January 2012-December 2012) totalled to 2.65 million bags worth $379 million down from 3 million bags in the previous year.

According to an official from Uganda Coffee Development Authority, the exports comprised of Robusta 1.84 million bags and Arabica 0.81 million bags.

"Robusta increased by 6.06% and 10.37% in terms of volume and value respectively, while Arabica dropped by 15.87% and 48.04% in terms of volume and value respectively compared to the same period last year 2011/12," remarked the official at the 10th African Fine Coffee Conference and exhibition held at the Common Wealth Resort in Munyonyo Kampala.

She said that the comparative sharp drop in value for Arabica is attributed to the drop in global Arabica prices resulting into a corresponding drop in export prices.

On centrally Kenya produced 50,000 metric tons of Coffee with 95% exports worth Kshs 20 billion. Loise Njeru, Managing Director of Coffee Board of Kenya said the country is moving towards value addition to up the value of coffee in the country.

About 76.32% of the total volume produced in Uganda was exported by 10 exporters out of the 28 exporters that performed in the month.

While there was a long dry spell in the previous year, Betty Namwagala the Executive Director of Uganda Coffee Federation a membership organization of coffee exporters attributes the sharp drop to it which affected the flouring of the coffee trees.

"During the same period many farmers were hoarding the coffee in anticipation of better prices to this point when most of them are just releasing the beans for export," she noted.

The sharp drop in Arabica in terms of volume and value is largely attributed to the change in blending by exporters who have resorted to purchasing more Robusta beans with less Arabica to mix together for more fine coffee.

"Due to the high prices of Arabica, more consumers are changing blends through mixing high quality Robusta Coffee some beans of Arabica which has forced the value of Robusta to rise," said the UCDA official.

As the spread of the Black Twig Borer continues to be a threat especially in the Robusta growing areas, UCDA recruited eight field staff to coordinate related activities in curbing the disease.

"Coffee Research scientists continue to carry out more characterization and surveillance in addition to providing vital information to farmers during the workshops," she added.

Exports to EU countries totalled 147,032 bags accounting for 69.48% of total exports compared to 145,355 bags (65.06%) exported in November 2012. It was followed by Sudan with 37,988 bags (15.80%) compared to 38,520 bags (17.24%) and USA with 13,252 bags (5.51%) compared to 5,840 (2.61%) exported in November 2012.

Jeremy Mpalampa a trader with Kyagalanyi Coffee Limited one of the biggest exporters of Ugandan coffee said currently harvesting is going on most of the producing regions which has seen an increase in production.

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