Ethiopia coffee exports hit record high

Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:57pm GMT

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia earned a record $841.6 million from the export of nearly 200,000 tonnes of coffee in 2010/2011, trade data showed on Wednesday, thanks to lower output from traditional giants Colombia and Brazil and higher demand from India and China.

Africa's biggest coffee producer intends to boost its agricultural output by 2015, raising coffee to 700,000 tonnes from 300,000 tonnes, under a five-year economic development plan launched last year.

High global commodity prices and the introduction in 2008 of a commodity exchange market, which promoted transparent trading instead of a murky auction system, helped lift coffee production to 196,118 tonnes in the 2010/2011 fiscal year, exporters said.

Trade data from the Ethiopian Coffee Exporters Association said the revenue figure represented a 59 percent rise compared to revenue earned in 2009/2010 and 124 percent from 2008/2009.

"The price has doubled over the year and farmers have reaped their fruit. Everone was encouraged to bring coffee to the local market," said Hailu Gebrehiwot, an exporter and former head of the Ethiopian Coffee Exporters Association.

Prices for Ethiopia's specialty Sidamo beans reached 1,500 Ethiopian birr for 17-kilograms in 2010/2011, up from 600 birr last year, Hailu added.

The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, which trades coffee, maize, sesame and white pea beans through an open outcry system, has said it was looking to introduce future and forward trading in a country where hoarding is common among traders wary of price volatility.

Coffee traders in Ethiopia have repeatedly held on to their stocks, reluctant to sell through the new exchange saying prices were too low, sparking authorities to warn of seizures.   Continued...

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