Uganda says coffee exports in 2019/2020 crop year to rise 16%
By Elias Biryabarema
KAMPALA, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Uganda forecasts its coffee exports in the 2019-2020 crop year will be about 16% higher from the previous period, boosted by favourable weather and expanding acreage as new trees mature, an official said on Wednesday.
James Kizito Mayanja, market intelligence and information manager at state-run Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) told Reuters shipments of the beans in 2019/20 (October-September) crop year may reach 5.1 million 60-kg bags, up from 4.4 million bags exported in the previous period.
Coffee was long Uganda's single largest commodity export but it has since been overtaken by gold whose shipments exceeded $1 billion in the year to June.
Uganda is also Africa's largest coffee exporter followed by Ethiopia. The country predominantly cultivates robusta coffee.
"We had a good crop last year and we expect even a higher production this year on account of favourable weather," Mayanja told Reuters.
"Also the planting programme is starting to bear fruit because we are seeing most of the trees that were planted are now maturing."
In recent years the government has been pursuing a planting programme to drive up exports, with farmers given free seeds to expand their acreage and to replace aging, unproductive trees.
Uganda has experienced heavy rains in recent months including in the major coffee growing areas of central, west and eastern parts of the country.
Mayanja said rain was helping spur good flowering and the bean formation phase of the crop now underway in western Uganda.
If the rains are prolonged however, he said, roads in rural areas may be rendered impassable which could stymie the transport of the crop to collection points in urban centres and potentially slow exports.
Mayanja said crop quality may be affected too as wet weather disrupts the drying process.
Much of the crop in Uganda is produced from small holder farmers who typically dry their beans on bare earth in their compounds.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and David Evans)
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