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East Africa Smells the Coffee and Moves to Expand Market

Friday, March 02, 2018 > 10:52:17
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http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/

Growth and optimism are two terms that capture, first, the performance of East Africa's coffee sub-sector and, second, its future.

Starting with Uganda, which led in performance, recording a 36 per cent growth in production, more than double that of Rwanda and Ethiopia -- at 17.6 and and 16.3 per cent, respectively, the region did well for itself.

According to a report released last month by Kenya's Coffee Sector Implementation Reforms Committee (CSIC), Kenya brought the rear at 3.2 per cent growth in the absence of data from conflict-plagued Burundi.

It is this positive outlook, especially in the global markets, that has the region's coffee producers considering increased production and expansion to new markets.

Uganda, for example, is targeting new markets to grow its exports to 15 per cent -- a fivefold increase of the country's share on the global market.

"There is a huge demand for our coffee in China, Russia, the Middle East and North Africa," said Uganda Coffee Development Authority managing director Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira.

"With these markets, we would be growing our global coffee exports from 3 per cent now to 15 per cent -- hopefully," Mr Iyamulemye told The EastAfrican on the sidelines of the 16th African Fine Coffee Association (AFCA) conference in Kampala, that ran from February 14 to 16.

Also keen on new markets is Tanzania, which has set its sights on China and Russia. Japan, Germany, Italy, United States and Britain.

Rising prices

Rwanda's coffee farmers are upbeat about future prospects, as a result of rising prices on the international market. Many of the over 400,000 farmers are now expanding their coffee acreage to increase production.

The National Agricultural Development Export Board (NAEB) has increased additional 1,500 hectares under coffee in Kirehe, Rulindo, Gakenke and Nyamagabe areas.

This sits well with the position of coffee as the country's leading export crop, accounting for 24 per cent of agricultural exports.

While Kenya is guided by the Coffee Sector Implementation Reforms Committee, Tanzania is going by the Coffee Industry Development Strategy, which is expected to raise production, with new farmers in the rich-soil southern regions, improved agricultural outputs and farming technologies.

The government targets to raise production from the current 50,000 tonnes to 100,000 tonnes in the next three years. The coffee sub-sector supports about 400,000 smallholder farmers, who produce 90 per cent of the Tanzania's coffee.


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