Africa’s Top Coffee Exporter May Miss Season Shipment Target

  • Ugandan exports may be 3.6 million bags, farmers’ body said
  • Drought has hurt yields in south; harvest is underway

Coffee exports from Uganda, Africa’s biggest shipper of the beans, may be about 5 percent less than a forecast from the industry regulator as drought cuts yields, a farmers’ group said.

Exports in the 12 months though September may drop to 3.6 million 60-kilogram (132-pound) bags, David Muwonge, deputy executive director of the Kampala-based National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises, said by phone Tuesday. That compares with a 3.8 million-bag target given by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority last year.

A drought in the last two months has strained the crop in southern and southwestern regions, where the main harvest is underway, Muwonge said. The two areas account for more than 40 percent of the nation’s annual coffee output, Joseph Nkandu, NUCAFE’s executive director, said on July 4. 

The outlook for reduced exports comes at a time when robusta-coffee prices are near their highest in more than a year. In the last season, almost 80 percent of coffee produced in Uganda, or 2.72 million bags, was of the robusta variety.

“We are assessing the impact of the drought on the crop,” Muwonge said. “Exports will be lower than the original target.”

Shipments would still be higher than the regulator’s 3.46 million-bag estimate for last season. Henry Ngabirano, managing director for the UCDA, didn’t answer calls seeking comment on this season’s exports.

Uganda consumes about 3 percent of its annual production and normally carries over 400,000 to 500,000 bags for the next season, according to the authority. That carry-over stock may be lower this year because of reduced yields, Muwonge said.

Shipments from October through May totaled 2.28 million bags, compared with 2.11 million bags in the year-earlier period, the authority said last month.

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