Uganda’s coffee exports increase despite COVID-19 market disruptions

Hands holding freshly picked coffee beans ready to be dried. Uganda. (Photo by: Farm Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
BUNJAKO ISLAND, MPIGI DISTRICT, UGANDA – SEPTEMBRE 25: Farmer sun-drying coffee beans in an organic farm on September 25, 2018 in Bunjako island, Mpigi district, Uganda. (Photo by Camille Delbos/Art In All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

Uganda’s coffee exports have defied coronavirus market disruptions for a straight second-month recording growth in value and volume.

According to data released by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority, shows that the country’s coffee exports between March 2020 and February 2021 totaled 5.56 million bags worth $511.21 million, from 4.74 million bags worth $459.47 million the previous year, representing 17 percent and 11 percent increase in quantity and value respectively.

In February, Uganda exported 563,763 60-kg bags of coffee worth $50.55 million.

Vincent Ssempijja, Minister of Agriculture attributes the recent growth in exports to increased production in the country’s coffee-growing regions, and the streamlining of transport and logistics from the farms to the market despite travel restrictions.

He added that during that period, many exporters had decided to keep their stock at warehouses until the market situation changed.

“For example, during the lockdown, moving the coffee from the farms to the port was difficult. What explains the constant rise these few months is that we have addressed the issue of logistics, delays, and bureaucracy at the Mombasa port,” he said.

On paper, Uganda has an ambitious target of exporting 20 million bags of coffee by 2022, which would put the country in a position to compete with large coffee powerhouses such as Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Brazil.