Coffee exports have defied the global Covid-19 lockdowns to earn Uganda Shs172b in the period ended February, at least Shs52b more than what the country fetched in the same period last year.
Data from Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) released early this month, indicates that coffee, one of Uganda’s largest foreign exchange earner, fetched $46.7m (Shs172b) in February compared to $32.5m (Shs120b) earned in the same period last year.
“This revenue was up from $32.5m (Shs120b) earned the same period last year thus indicating a 43 per cent increase,” the UCDA report says, noting that in the period under review, Uganda exported more than 476,000 kilogrammes of coffee from the 325,000 kilogramme shipped out in the same period last year.
Uganda produces and exports two brands of coffee mainly Robusta and Arabica. Robusta takes more than 80 per cent of the market share while Arabica takes the 20 per cent share.
According to the report, in the period, a total of 388,646 kilogramme Robusta coffee bags were shipped out of the country up from the 261,526 kilogramme bags exported the same time last year.
“There was a 48.6 per cent increase in volume and a 43 per cent increase in revenue earned from the exportation of Robusta coffee from Uganda,” the report indicates.
Arabica coffee volumes registered a 36 per cent increase from the 84,384 bags from the 61,656 kilogramme bags that were shipped out in the same period last year.
“This year, the country’s revenue earnings from Arabica were worth $12m up from $8.3m earned the same period the previous year. This indicated a 44 per cent change.”
According to UCDA, the increase in exports has resulted from increased production in central and eastern Uganda coupled with the fly crop from the regions south of the equator.
“We have seen fruition of the newly planted coffee and the generally dry weather facilitate the drying of the beans to boost the numbers,” Mr Emmanuel Iyamulemye, the UCDA executive director, said.
Cumulatively, the report shows that Uganda in the last 12 months exported a total of 4.7 million (60) kilogramme bags worth $456.5m (Shs1.6 trillion).
Destination markets for Uganda’s coffee during the period, saw Italy take the largest share of 33.1 per cent while Sudan took up 13.3 per cent followed by Germany, which took up 12.6 per cent and Spain with a 1.3 per cent.
However, according to experts, the performance may not be the same in the months to come because some of the major market destinations including Italy, Germany and Spain have been gravely hit by Covid-19.
Mr Joseph Nkandu, the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises executive director, said: ‘If the situation does not improve, this may make life hard because buyers have now slowed down purchases as they hold onto their money to see how things move.”