Kampala, Uganda — Uganda coffee exports are yet to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic after March figures showed growth compared to a year ago.
Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said in a March 2020 report that Uganda coffee exports were 477,561 worth USD45.87M (Shs 171bn). This is higher than the 472,994 bags of coffee exported in February.
However, while in March there was more coffee exported, it fetched less money compared to February 2020 where the country earned USD 46.73m (Shs 175bn).
This means the prices of the cash crop had started falling as more coffee shops shut around the globe with countries scampering to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
For Uganda, UCDA says the increase in exports is due to the increased production on account of the fruition of the newly planted coffee, the onset of rains notwithstanding.
It added, "exporters also drew down on their stocks during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
This is a view shared with Adam Levin, an exporter, who told us "much of the coffee exported had already been propositioned in Kampala and to fulfil existing contracts."
"Exports are yet to be affected by the virus," said UCDA.
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It added that coffee exports for the first 9 months (in 2019/20 financial year) amounted USD 376.60 million compared to USD320.21 million the previous year - a substantive growth.
Annually, Uganda's average coffee earnings top USD450m, making it one of the top foreign exchange-earners. Uganda is the second-largest producer of coffee after Ethiopia on the continent but the largest exporter. Ethiopia consumes much of its coffee internally.
The destinations of Uganda's coffee exports during March 2020 were Italy followed by Sudan, Germany and Spain.
UCDA says coffee exports are projected to be 400,000 bags as exporters will continue releasing stocks in anticipation of lower prices in April 2020.
This is when Brazil's on-year 2020/21 crop harvest, estimated to be 60million bags, starts and therefore depressing global prices