Bloomberg News

Burundi Coffee Production May Drop 13% Amid Decreased Plantings

June 23, 2011

June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Coffee production in Burundi, which relies on the crop to generate more than half its foreign- exchange earnings, may drop 13 percent this year amid declining plantings, the Burundi Coffee Regulatory Agency said.

Output may fall to 21,000 metric tons from 24,000 tons in 2010, Pascal Girukwishaka, technical director of the Bujumbura- based agency, said in an interview yesterday. Production is declining amid a growing scarcity of land for the country’s increasing population and a lack of labor to help farm the beans as people leave rural areas to seek employment in the nation’s cities, he said.

“Our coffee is so appreciated for its taste and we are afraid we cannot meet demand,” Girukwishaka said.

Burundi grows mainly the arabica variety of coffee. Arabica for September delivery fell 0.75 cent, or 0.3 percent, to $2.462 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York yesterday. Prices of the beans have surged 56 percent over the past year. Burundian coffee exports increased to 361,217 60-kilogram bags from May 2010 to April 2011, compared with 138,872 bags in the same period a year earlier, according to data on the website of the International Coffee Organization.

This year’s crop has been helped by “good rains” and government efforts to boost soil fertility, Girukwishaka said, without providing details. Of the 21,000 tons of coffee expected to be produced this year, 12,000 tons will be “fully washed,” he said. Washing coffee involves processing the beans in water.

Last month, the company that manages washing stations in the East African nation, known as Sogestal, increased the amount it pays farmers for their beans by 29 percent to 630 Burundian francs (51 cents) per kilogram (2.2 pounds).

Girukwishaka said a survey conducted last year showed that 600,000 households in Burundi are involved in coffee production.

--Editors: Paul Richardson, Ana Monteiro.

To contact the reporter on this story: Desire Nimubona in Bujumbura via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.


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