Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Coffee exports went up by 77,606 bags in May 2020 compared to what was exported in April an indicator that the cash crop trade is thriving through the pandemic.
In May, Ugandans exported 437,579 bags, up from the 359,973 bags exported in April 2020. These figures are still below what was exported in March (477,561 bags) before the country fully instituted a lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus. Each bag weighs 60 kilogrammes.
According to the reporting by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), coffee exported in May fetched USD 42.48 million (157 billion Shillings) compared to USD 34 million (129 billion Shillings) in April. This is still lower than USD 46 million (172 billion Shillings) the country earned in March 2020.
UCDA, which oversees the coffee sector said the increase in exports has been attributed to the increased production on account of the fruition of the newly planted coffee. The agency says exporters also “drew down on their stocks in the midst of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It notes that as was the case in the past two months, exports were in May affected by logistical issues due to the country’s lockdown especially at Malaba border point where drivers had to wait for their coronavirus test results for several days before entering Kenya. Also, the global price was lower in May at USD 1.62 per kilogram (6,009 Shillings), 9 cents lower than USD 1.71 (6,342 Shillings) per kilogram, the country earned in April 2020.
Last month, UCDA managing director Emmanuel Ilamulemye warned in an online meeting that the quality of coffee from a lot of farmers will likely be compromised as many who failed to get buyers to take their produce decided to heap it in their homes.
Ilamulemye said that coffee markets have stagnated with disruptions from coronavirus measures, affecting the farmers’ ability to reach markets. This meant that farmers looked for a way to keep the product for a long time. Their storage facilities are not well ventilated, which can easily lead to quality to be compromised.
Uganda’s coffee has previously been subjected to low prices in the global market because of its low quality.