Exports of coffee from Uganda—Africa’s largest Robusta producer—have continued to slump. Exports totalled 290,475 60-kg bags in February, 18.2 percent below the same month last season, owing to severe dry weather that adversely affected outturn. The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) expects March arrivals to fall by 25 percent to 260,000 bags, which if achieved would mark a fifth consecutive month of falling exports.
Despite the strong start to the 2014/15 season, when October arrivals outpaced last year’s by 9 percent, this season has been beset by heavy rains that disrupted harvesting at the height of the season, and an outbreak of black twig borer in Robusta growing regions. The slump in exports also reflects the retention of stocks by exporters in response to low international Robusta and Arabica prices, which have fallen by 14.4 percent and 30.6 percent, respectively, since the start of the season in October.
As the majority of Uganda’s coffee producing regions head into the fly crop—the
smaller harvest that begins in April/May and represents roughly one-third of output—Uganda will struggle to close the gap after a disappointing main crop. As a result, the UCDA has revised down its forecast for 2014/15 by 8.6 percent to 3.2 million bags.