UGANDA'S coffee exports fell 15 percent in March to 217,809 60-kg bags compared with the similar period last year due to dwindling yields in some areas, a source at the industry regulator said on Thursday.
Coffee is a leading export and foreign exchange earner for the east African country which specialises in production of robusta. Uganda is the continent's second biggest producer of the beans.
The source at Uganda Development Authority (UCDA) told Reuters that shipped 256,679 60-kg bags in the same month last year.
UCDA is still compiling a final monthly report.
â€œThe harvest in the central and eastern Uganda is winding down and that's why weâ€™re seeing a little decline,â€ he said.
â€œSouth and southwestern regions are now going into their harvest season though and yields from those areas will dominate in the next half of the coffee season (October-September).â€
The regulator says eastern and central Uganda account for around 55 percent of the countryâ€™s total coffee output. Marchâ€™s bean exports were down 18% plunge from Februaryâ€™s 264,373 bags.
Export volumes of the beans have been falling since late 2009, partly the impact of drought that hit the country last year.
That prompted UCDA to lower its output forecast for the 2009/10 season to 3.1 million bags from 3.4 million.
Farmers have been upbeat lately, encouraged by the rains that have been falling since December.
The meteorological department says heavy downpour is expected to continue in central and southwest, Ugandaâ€™s principal coffee growing areas.
Ugandaâ€™s coffee exports are expected to hit four million 60-kilogramme bags by 2012 due to ongoing plans to boost productivity, state media reported Wednesday.
Clive Drew, the managing director of the US Agency for International Development-funded Agricultural Productivity Enhancement Programme in Uganda, was in January quoted as saying the country has the capacity to attain a 100% increase in volume and value if the government invests in research and provides farmers with subsidised inputs.
The USAID campaign was launched in Mukono district, the leading coffee producing district in Ugandaâ€™s central region, and is being promoted by UCDA, the Coffee Research Centre and coffee exporters.
Uganda March coffee exports drop by 15%