Ugandan monthly coffee exports climb 43% despite fall in neighbouring countries

UGANDA – Uganda earned US$46.73million in February 2020 Coffee exports. This was an increase of 43.37% in value from the same month the previous year.

Comparing quantity of coffee exported by type in the same month of last Coffee Year, Robusta registered an increase in both quantity & value of 48.61% and 43.05% respectively.

Arabica exports also registered a 36.8% increase in quantity and 44.28% in value.

The increase in exports has been attributed to the increased production for the main season in Central and Eastern Regions and a fly crop from regions south of the equator on account of fruition of the newly planted coffee and the generally dry weather which facilitated drying of the coffee.

Coffee exports for the first 8 months (Financial Year 2019/20) amounted to 3,405,748-kilo bags worth US$330.68 million compared to 2,830,600 60-kilo bags worth US$ 286.42 million the previous year.

This represents 20.32% and 15.45% increase in both quantity and value respectively.

Cumulatively in twelve months, a total of 4.74million 60-kg bags worth US$ 459.52 million were exported.

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Comparably, coffee earnings in Uganda’s neighbouring country, Kenya, dropped by Sh2 billion (US$19.3m) at the end of February compared with the same time last year following a slump in volumes and depressed prices at the auction.

A market report by the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) indicates the crop earned Kenya Sh6.6 billion (US$63.7m) at the end of the last month, down from Sh4.5 billion the previous year.

NCE chief executive officer, Daniel Mbithi says the low earnings resulted from a dip in price and low volumes offered for sale at the auction.

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“There was a 27.38 percent drop in the number of bags traded at the auction from 266,060 by February 2019 to 193,215 last month,” said Mr Mbithi.

Subsequently, the average price went down to Sh19,000 (US$183) as at end of last month, from Sh20,400 (US$196) for a 50-kilo bag in the corresponding time in the previous year. But the value is expected to pick following an increase in global prices.

The price of the commodity in New York Exchange has gone up significantly from a low of 98 cents per pound last month to hit 120, giving hopes of a better price locally given that the value of Kenyan produce is pegged on international price.

The decline in volumes was occasioned by wet weather that hampered drying of the produce, hence starving the auction of the new crop.

“The decline was on account of persistent wet weather witnessed from early October 2019 through January 2020 that caused a delay in the drying of the parchment coffee before dry milling,” he said.

Kenya has one of the best coffees in the world, highly sought-after by roasters for blending with other low-quality beans from other regions.

However, the production has significantly dropped when compared with her peers in the region with Uganda, which was at par with the country in the previous years, now widening the gap.

Since early 1990s to 2010/11 crop year, area under coffee has declined by 35 percent from 170,000 hectares to 109, 795 hectares as farmers abandoned the crop due to poor management.

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