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Beetles threaten Ugandan coffee crop

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

KAMPALA (Reuters) – Shrinking forest cover and climate change threaten Uganda’s coffee industry by creating conditions for the destructive black twig borer beetle to spread into plantations, an official said on Wednesday.

Africa’s largest coffee exporter, Uganda mostly cultivates the robusta coffee bean variety. Shipments of the beans are a major source of foreign exchange.

Exports in the 2015/16 (Oct-Sept) crop were expected to reach 3.6 million 60-kg bags, modestly higher than the previous period’s 3.46 million bags, according to state regulator Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).

But David Muwonge, head of marketing at the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farmer Enterprises (NUCAFE), said prospects were clouded by the twig borer beetle which was increasingly migrating to coffee farms as forest cover shrank.

He said some farmers had reported losing as much as 40 percent of their potential harvest as a result of the beetle, although he did not give a forecast for the overall impact.

“The biggest threat to coffee in Uganda is … the twig borer,” he said.

The beetle thrives in the drier conditions which have become more frequent in recent years and which have been partly linked to global changes in climate, Muwonge said.

First detected in Uganda in 1993, the twig borer makes tiny grooves on the twigs – the small branches that bear cherries – of coffee trees and lays eggs there. It then infects the twigs with a fungi which causes the leaves and twigs to wilt and die.

A 2013/14 survey by UCDA found that at least 40 percent of all trees in robusta growing areas had infected twigs.

Muwonge said the beetle mostly lived in dense forests where natural enemies controlled its population. But smaller forests and drier conditions meant “some of the (beetle’s) natural enemies have been eliminated” and it was migrating to farms.

He said pesticides had only a limited impact and many farmers could not afford the chemicals.

“It’s an existential threat to our coffee because we don’t have a cure as yet,” he said.

British charity Oxfam warned in 2008 that changing weather patterns in Uganda could leave much of country unsuitable for growing coffee within 30 years if temperatures rose 2 degrees or more.


(By Elias Biryabarema. Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Edmund Blair and William Hardy)

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Starbucks arrives in South Africa

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

starbucks south africa

Hundreds in Johannesburg line up on opening day of the coffee giant’s first store in sub-Saharan Africa.

The U.S. coffee giant Starbucks opened its first cafe in sub-Saharan Africa – a store in an affluent Johannesburg suburb – and the company plans to open at least a dozen more stores South Africa in the next two years.

Many people waited overnight and hundreds of people lined up before the opening to get their first taste of Starbucks while #StarbucksSA trended on Twitter on opening day.

Previously, Starbuck’s only African locations were in Morocco and Egypt. The global corporation has about 23,000 stores in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz said the company might eventually open as many as 150 stores in South Africa.

Second store opens soon

A second location is set to open soon at another Johannesburg shopping mall, but there are no plans to expand to other countries in the region.

The new stores are being launched through a licensing partnership between Starbucks Coffee Company and Taste Holdings, a South African management group and leading licensor of international brands.

“We are proud to be bringing Starbucks to South Africa,” said Kris Engskov, president of Starbucks for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. “We’re going to deliver a great Starbucks experience. The coffee market here (in South Africa) is vibrant and growing fast – we want to be part of that growth.”

Taste Holdings operates stores

Under the agreement, Taste Holdings gains exclusive rights to open Starbucks outlets in South Africa. It will own and operate the stores.

Carl Gonzaga, chief executive officer of Taste Holdings, said the partnership is committed to development of local suppliers and Taste Holdings has a program to increase employment among unemployed South Africans, who will benefit from new opportunities at Starbucks.

Engskov said young people have been the key to Starbucks’ success. With most of its workers aged 17 to 25 years old, “talented youth has always been a priority,” he said.

Taste Holding’s also holds a licensing agreement for Domino’s Pizza in South Africa and the company owns and operates Zebro’s Chicken, the Fish & Chip Co., Maxi’s Restaurants and St. Elmo’s Woodfired Pizza.

Hundreds line up for coffee

A line at the new Starbucks location in Johannesburg

A line at the new Starbucks location in Johannesburg

At the April 21 Starbucks opening in Johannesburg’s Rosebank district, a long line of customers was waiting when the store opened at 7:30 a.m.

Mohamed Mala, a 19-year-old student, said he waited for 12 hours to be the first customer. ” We wanted to be the first customers at Starbucks, and we were,” he said.

“Starbucks has been one of the things missing from the South African scene,” said Norma Cooper, a bank employee.

Starbucks will compete with many established locally owned coffee brands and independent coffee shops.

Gonzaga said the menu was designed to reflect local customer tastes including local products such as Rooibos tea.

Some of the coffee beans are sourced from nine African countries, including Kenya and Burundi, he said.

South Africa attracts U.S. food chains

With the most developed economy on the continent, South Africa has seen recent openings of several U.S. food chains, including Krispy Kreme Doughnut and Burger King.

Starbucks’ Engskov noted that significant quantities of Starbucks coffee products from Africa, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania, where the company has established farmer support networks.

The support centers opened after Ethiopia and the company settled a dispute in which that nation and Oxfam accused Starbucks of trying to block Ethiopia from obtaining trademarks for two of the country’s best-known coffee beans – Harrar and Sidamo. A third coffee, Yirgacheffe, was trademarked in the U.S. in 2006.

Under the agreement, Starbucks was allowed to promote and sell the three brands in markets where they are trademarked as well as where they are not while recognizing the integrity of the Ethiopian coffee brands.

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Ivory Coast produced 126,000 tonnes of robusta in 2014/15

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Ivory Coast produced 126,000 tonnes of robusta coffee during the recently ended 2014/15 season and is targeting output of 130,000 tonnes this season as it seeks to revive the sector after years of decline, a government spokesman said on Friday.

Under reforms introduced in 2012, the West African country abandoned more than a decade of liberalisation in its coffee industry, which proved bad for farmers and production.

Now the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) sells forward the bulk of the anticipated crop in order to fix a guaranteed price for farmers.

“Since the reform, coffee production hasn’t ceased to increase,” Bruno Kone said following a cabinet meeting in the commercial capital Abidjan.

Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa grower, set a government guaranteed farmer price of 670 CFA francs ($1.11) per kilogram on Friday’s opening day of the 2015/16 harvest, Bruno Kone said, up from 650 CFA francs/kg last season.

Ivorian green robusta coffee output peaked at 380,000 tonnes in 2000, statistics from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization show, before collapsing during a decade of political turmoil and a drop in world prices.

Before the reform programme was implemented, Kone said, annual output had fallen to around 90,000 tonnes. Ivory Coast is targeting production of around 400,000 tonnes by 2020.


(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Joe Bavier. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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Ugandan coffee exports jump 38% in September

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

KAMPALA (Reuters) – Uganda’s coffee exports in September rose 37.7 percent year on year as good prices encouraged farmers to sell, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said.

UCDA said the East African country shipped a total of 286,322 60-kg bags last month, up from 207,923 bags exported in September 2014.

Uganda exported 3.46 million bags in the 2014/15 (Oct-Sept) crop year, down slightly from 3.5 million the previous year, the regulator said.

“Farm gate coffee prices improved in line with the global prices,” UCDA said, without providing details.

Coffee is Uganda’s leading commodity export and its single biggest source of hard currency.

UCDA said shipments in the 2014/15 crop year earned the country $410 million, up from $394 million the previous year.

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Value of coffee sold at Kenyan auction falls 18% in 2014/15

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

NAIROBI (Reuters) – The value of coffee sold at Kenya’s auctions fell 18 percent to $142.5 million in the crop year to September, hit by lower volumes, the head of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) said on Monday.

The east African nation, whose high-quality beans are sought by roasters to blend with beans from other producers, exports much of its coffee through the exchange and the rest is sold by growers directly to foreign buyers.

The NCE sold coffee worth $174.1 million in the 2013/14 season that runs between October and September.

“Drought conditions early in the year affected crop especially in the central Kenya growing areas and that has reflected in the overall performance,” Daniel Mbithi, the chief executive of the NCE told Reuters.

Officials said 568,766 60-kg bags were sold during the period, down from 671,438 the previous year. The average price at the exchange also dropped to $205.02 per 50-kg bag from $212.70 the previous year.

East African coffee is normally packed in 60-kg bags, but the prices are quoted for quantities of 50 kg.

Coffee exports were at one time Kenya’s leading foreign exchange earner but have slipped to under 50,000 tonnes in recent years from a record level of 130,000 tonnes in 1987/88.

Many smallholder coffee farmers, disillusioned with poor earnings, switched to other crops or sold land for real estate in recent years.

The area of coffee plantations in Kenya has fallen to 109,000 hectares from the average of 150,000 hectares in 1980s and 1990s, the regulator, the Coffee Directorate, has said.


(Editing by Duncan Miriri and Mark Potter, Reuters)


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