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Coffee exports down by 100,000 bags in April

Coffee exports affected by the coronavirus lockdown

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Uganda’s coffee exports were cut down by 117,588 bags in the month of April compared to what was exported in March 2020, a testament of how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted distribution chains.

According to figures by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority, Uganda exported 359,973 bags of coffee in April down from 477,561 bags in March, one of the biggest drops in a single month. Each bag weighs 60kilograms. The UCDA says “exports were to some extent affected by logistical issues due to the country’s lockdown.”

Also, coffee dealers found it hard to move to farmers to collect more coffee. This forced them to draw down on their stocks in the midst of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The low volume of exports coupled with low prices meant the country’s earnings from the cash crop suffered a hit too. In April, the country managed to earn USD 34 million (129 billion Shillings) compared to USD 46 million (174 billion Shillings) in March. 

Coffee shops in countries that drink a lot of coffee are yet to open fully, cutting off some percentage on demand and therefore, price. But this is not to diminish the fact that Uganda’s coffee exports and earnings were higher when compared to the same month last year. This is because new plantations have started harvesting.

Dr Ezra Munyambonera, a senior research fellow at the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), says that with tourism battered and remittances diminished, coffee could be Uganda’s fall back to earn foreign exchange at least for the two years. 

Last year, Uganda exported up 4.7 million bags of coffee, cementing its position as the continent’s biggest exporter and second-biggest producer of the crop.

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