Uganda expects its July coffee exports to fall 26 percent to 280,000 60-kg bags compared with the same month in 2011 due to farmers holding off sales in expectation of better prices, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said on Monday.
The east African country, Africa's leading exporter of the beans, shipped 375,843 bags in July last year.
"Farmers and exporters are still holding on to their stocks as they anticipate better prices at various levels of the value chain," state-run UCDA said in a monthly report.
Farm gate prices for processed Robusta cherries averaged 4,000 shillings ($1.61) per kilo compared with 4,500 a year ago, UCDA said.
Cumulatively, Uganda has exported about 2 million bags of coffee in the first nine months of the 2011/2012 (Oct-Sep) season valued at $293.6 million compared with 2.1 million bags worth $300.6 million in the same period a year ago.
South and southwestern regions, which produce 45 percent of the country's coffee crop, are currently at the peak of a harvest season.
Uganda primarily cultivates the Robusta variety and substantially relies on exports of coffee for its foreign exchange earnings. ($1 = 2480.0000 Ugandan shillings).
COFFEE farmers in the Rwenzori mountainous sub-region have a reason to smile after the recent introduction of a new Arabica coffee variety. Each coffee tree of the new variety yields 4kg compared to the old variety that produces 2kg.
“This new coffee variety (SL14) is also resistant to various diseases, has a good aroma and is drought-resistant. Unlike the old varieties that take three to five years to mature, this one takes two years,” said Tress Bucyanayandi, the agriculture minister.
The minister said every village in the benefiting districts will have a nursery operator of the new variety. He was speaking to Kasese and Kamwenge farmers and district officials recently during the launch of a sh2b coffee development project.
The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has put in place strategies of improving the quality of coffee processed.
The quality and regulatory manager, Edmund Kananura said the authority is concerned that Uganda was the second leading producer of coffee in Africa and ranked 10th overall in the World but about 98% of its coffee is exported.
He said the low local consumption of the beverage could be due to a negative perception Ugandans have towards coffee, which he said emanate from misleading information passed on to consumers claiming healthy related risks amongst consumers.
Kananura told journalists at a coffee gala at the Forest Mall yard in Lugogo that UCDA had embarked on sensitizing local consumers about the healthy benefits of taking coffee and explaining the myths attached to coffee as a beverage.
Farmers in Nakaseke under the Kikamulo Cooperative Society Ltd are to setup a coffee processing factory worth sh200m, to be received from government.
The chairman Paul Sejjabi Kasolo has revealed that the factory will also have a maize milling machine – to be funded by President Yoweri Museveni and Gen Salim Saleh’s Operation Wealth Creation.
“The investment is to enable us add value to agricultural products,” he told New Vision.
The factory to be located at Kamuli Parish in Kikamulo sub-county has 500 registered members under the Kikamulo Cooperative Society Ltd.
Kasolo said the district will produce 1000 tons of coffee in the coming season, following massive efforts that were undertaken to grow the cash crop.
For several years now, it has been trendy for our politicians and other leaders to advise farmers to plant coffee in order to reduce poverty.
Many of them have also donated coffee seedlings to the farmers to plant. One MP in Masaka region gave out coffee seedlings last month when the rainy season was about to end.
Many of his targeted constituents scoffed at him for the “mis-timing”.
They said they were hardly surprised since he is not a farmer himself and had no idea when coffee seedlings are planted.
Actually nearly all of them had already received coffee seedlings through Naads (National Agricultural Advisory Services).