Heavy rains to boost Uganda coffee output: farmers

 @ibtimes
on February 23 2010 8:54 AM

KAMPALA - Torrential rains in large parts of Uganda should boost this season's coffee output, a senior official with a farmers' organization said on Tuesday.

Uganda is one of Africa's leading producers of coffee and predominantly cultivates the robusta variety. Heavy rains have been falling in most of the country and the meteorological department forecasts this to continue through May.

David Muwonge, marketing and production manager of National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE), told Reuters the rains were falling at a time when they were most needed.

The timing is apt because the beans in most areas, especially those growing arabica, are currently developing and that's when they need a lot of moisture to facilitate development, he said.

Muwonge said NUCAFE believed output for this season will range between 3.1 and 3.2 million bags, roughly in line with government forecasts.

Good bean formation will significantly increase production, allaying earlier fears of a poor crop yield because of the lingering effects of a prolonged drought last year, he said.

Recently, the state-run Uganda Coffee Development Authority cut its forecast for the 2009/2010 (Oct-Sep) season to produce 3.1 million bags from an earlier forecast of 3.4 million bags, because of last year's dry spell.

The UCDA said last year Uganda exported 3 million bags of coffee in the October 2008-September 2009 season.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by George Obulutsa and Amanda Cooper)

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