Kenya, Uganda signal recovery on coffee front
Kenya and Uganda are expected to increase their coffee exports in the marketing year 2023/24, as government efforts to increase production come to fruition.
According to a forecast by the Global Agricultural Information Network-Gains, Uganda's production will reach a record high of 6.85 million 60 kilogramme bags, a 4 percent increase attributed to good rainfall and the maturation of new high-yielding Robusta variety planted between 2017 and 2019.
Kenya’s production is forecast to increase 6.7 percent to 800,000 bags due to recovery from drought conditions and higher fertiliser application.
While Kenya’s total area harvested is expected to remain flat, at 105,000 hectares, due to a shortage of planting materials and losses associated with conversion of coffee plantations to real estate, in Uganda the acreage under coffee is increasing.
Consumption in Uganda is also rising to an estimated 325,000 bags, from 300,000, due to the spread of coffee cafes in Kampala and other urban areas. Exports are expected to increase 4 percent year-on-year as higher production increases exportable supplies.
To help increase production, Uganda’s government provided farmers with high-quality seedling varieties and extension services from 2017.
Although this support declined since 2020, in part due to Covid-19 related restrictions and limited resources, many high-yielding Robusta trees planted before 2020 have begun to mature.
Prior to 2020, Uganda’s planted area increased as non-traditional areas began to grow Robusta with government support. Acreage dedicated to coffee increased from 450,000 hectares in 2016/17 to 560,000 hectares in 2019/20.
Robusta in Uganda typically takes three to four years to achieve peak yields after planting. Arabica production is expected to remain steady at 1 million bags as growing conditions similar to those encountered in 2022/23 are expected to prevail.
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Administrators Martin Miriti and Matthew Snyder in a report on May 18 forecast bigger numbers.
“The area planted will continue to increase slightly in Uganda from 565,000 to 570,000 hectares, as some farming cooperatives and millers have begun to provide support for new coffee acreage, albeit at a smaller scale than the government’s pre-Covid efforts,” they say.
FAS has however revised its 2022/23 production forecast to 6.57 million bags due to coffee diseases in growing areas.
Robusta yields are expected to remain below historical levels due to outbreaks of Black Coffee Twig Borer and Coffee Red Blister Disease observed in Uganda’s Robusta growing regions.
This year Kenya has experienced good rains throughout coffee growing regions, triggering robust flowering which is expected to result in higher yields during the October 2023 harvest.
Uganda has favourable climatic conditions for coffee and farmers typically use few or no inputs to boost production. As a result, Uganda’s production is largely unaffected by variations in fertilizer prices.