Ethiopia Coffee Growers Expect Another Record Year for Exports

Ethiopia’s deteriorating political crisis, Africa’s largest coffee producer, has had little effect on exports, and growers anticipate another record year as foreign competitors struggle.

Ethiopia exported 86,000 tonnes of coffee in the three months to October, earning $327.9 million, 77 percent more than anticipated, according to the Ethiopia Tea and Coffee Authority.

According to authority figures, the nation exported 250,000 tonnes during the marketing year that ended July 31, earning a record $910 million. Ethiopian coffee exports are expected to reach 280,000 tonnes and generate $1.1 billion this fiscal year.

Since fighting between central government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front erupted in late 2020, thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

“The conflict has had no effect on our exports,” Adugna Debela, director general of the tea and coffee authority, said in an interview from Addis Ababa. “There are no problems at the Djibouti port, and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti road runs smoothly; therefore, we measure it in terms of daily volumes.”

The largest producer and consumer of arabica coffee beans in Africa has steadily increased output over the last three years. The central government declared a six-month state of emergency last week in response to a conflict that has so far remained confined to areas outside the primary coffee-growing regions.

Meanwhile, shipping costs in Asia have increased to the point where buyers of robusta beans are looking for alternatives to Vietnam, the world’s largest exporter of that variety. Uganda has benefited, according to Rabobank International, as robusta exports reach their highest level in 30 years.

Arabica prices in New York have increased by more than 60% this year as a result of Brazil’s top producer’s production being slashed by frosts and drought. Colombia, which is ranked second, is also suffering from an excess of rain.

Due to the increase in global prices, some farmers have renounced delivery contracts entered into when markets were weaker. The largest buyers of Ethiopian beans are Saudi Arabia, Germany, the United States, Japan, and Belgium.

“Some exporters are negotiating those prices, and there are firms that do so,” Adugna explained.

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