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High expectations in coffee sector

Good prices, increasing production excite UCDA

A coffee replanting initiative, which started nearly five years ago, is expected to boost the country’s crop volumes starting this year.

“We are seeing an increase in the coffee export volumes this year as the crops we started planting more than three years ago in the replanting exercise have started to yield,” said Emmanuel Niyibigira, the managing director of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) told The Independent in an interview.

“For instance from October to December 2016, the country exported a total of 1.04 million bags of coffee beans, up from 814,548 bags exported the same period in the previous year bringing in US$126million, up from US$81.22 million earned the previous year,” he said. That is a 28% increase in volume of exports bringing in a 55% increase in value due to higher prices.

Data from UCDA which is the sector regulator, shows that the country’s coffee export volume is projected to grow by 5.3% to 3.75 million 60-kg bags in the 2016/17 season due to additional maturing coffee trees and early rainfall.

UCDA has since distributed nearly 317,000 coffee seedlings to farmers across the 98 districts that grow the crop.

The initiative received a boost in 2013 when the government launched Operation Wealth Creation aimed at raising household incomes. More than 1.7 million people are estimated to be involved in coffee growing in Uganda out of a population of 35 million.

As a result, Uganda’s coffee export earnings is projected grow by 41% to US$495million for this season  compared with the 2015/16 season , according to UCDA, as the expected increase in production and export volumes is happening amidst a surge in coffee prices on the international market.

The projected performance, if achieved, will mark a rebound in the country’s coffee export earnings which have been declining since the 2011/12 season when the country earned US$ 467million.

Niyibigira said the effects of drought in many of the world’s coffee producing countries; including Brazil and Vietnam have led to a surge in prices on the international market.

Uganda exports most of its coffee to the European Union, Sudan, USA, and India, with Robusta coffee accounting for 80% of the total exports.

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