Uganda, Ethiopia to remain leaders in East African coffee sector - JULY 2014

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Addis Ababa, 20 June 2014 (WIC) - Uganda and Ethiopia will remain the pre-eminent coffee exporters in East Africa over the next decade, according to foodanddrinkinsight.

We highlight Tanzania as the country best-placed for coffee production growth in the region, though government initiatives will boost production across the region.

Aside from Ethiopia, East African coffee producers have seen either stagnation or outright declines over the last 20 years.

Production in Uganda and Kenya peaked in the late 1990s, while output in Tanzania failed to sustain a level above 1mn bags for at least two consecutive years.

In contrast, Ethiopia has significantly increased production since the early 2000s, raising output by more than 125% between 2000/01 and 2012/13 to 6.3mn bags.

Ethiopia and Kenya produce arabica coffee almost exclusively, while Uganda predominantly focuses on robusta production. Tanzania farms both crops.

Though East Africa is one of the world's largest producers of arabica coffee beans, with total production of around 17mn bags, it remains well behind Brazil, which produces between 35mn and 40mn bags in any given year.

The main reason behind the recent stagnation in Ugandan, Kenyan and Tanzanian coffee production is falling or stagnant yields. Both Kenya and Tanzania have suffered from declining yields while area harvested has remained largely static.

Uganda, on the other hand, has seen volatility in its yields, which have averaged around the 6,500 hectogram per hectare (hg/ha) level for the last 50 years.
Tellingly, Ethiopia has also seen yields fall over the last 20 years and has only boosted output by devoting a significantly greater area to coffee production.