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Uganda coffee exports jump 58 per cent

Uganda’s coffee exports have risen 58 per cent because of a good harvest and the weakening local currency, according to Uganda’s Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).

Coffee shipments from Uganda rose to 370,924 60-kilogram bags in June, surpassing the 234,956 bags a year earlier. Export earnings for the month of June also doubled to $53 million from $23.03 million in June 2010.

“This is the highest recorded monthly volume in almost 10 years,” a source tells Reuters.

“The rise in volume is attributed to the good harvesting season southwestern coffee regions (ongoing), which was given support by good farm-gate prices.”

The local currency has been weak against the dollar in recent months and hit a record low of 2,710 on June 30 against the US currency. The rise of coffee prices on the international market is said to be a result of devaluation of the shilling against dollar.

According to the UCDA, the increase in exports is good news for the Ugandans after high local demand for dollars by oil companies. A lot of pressure has been piled on the Uganda shilling after manufactures and multinationals paid dividends to their foreign owners against poor dollar inflows.

Currently, farmers in the southern and western regions of Africa are harvesting their main crop, while the central and eastern regions are picking a secondary crop whose yields are lower than usual.

More than 95 percent of Uganda’s crop is grown by small-scale farmers whose plants are predominantly rain-fed.

Uganda is Africa’s second biggest coffee producer, behind Ethiopia, and the biggest grower of Robusta coffee in the world.  Through a replanting program, Uganda is planning to increase coffee production to 4.5 million bags a season by 2015.

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