By Stephen Nuwagira
Coffee growers in Ibanda district have a reason to smile after prices for beans continued the upward trajectory recorded over the past seasons.
A survey by New Vision indicates that Arabica coffee beans (clean) range from sh8,000 to sh8,300 per kilogramme in many parts across the district, increasing from sh7,800 during the first week of September.
Kiboko (dry coffee cherries) is at sh8,000 a kilo.
Arabica coffee hit record highs of over sh11,000 per kilogramme last year, before shedding value to the current price range.
Patience Katunge of Bisheshe Coffee Processors Cooperative Society (BICOPA) said they are buying the beans at sh8,200 compared to sh7,800.
She, however, said that beans coming to the market were also of poor quality with low outturn, which she attributed to the dry spell the district experienced from June to August.
“The coffee lacked the necessary rains, which affected the growth of the beans as Arabica is sensitive to dry spells,” said Katunge in an interview on October 3.
Deogratias Tihwayo, a coffee buyer in Ibanda town, said quality Arabica coffee beans were at sh8,300, adding that the volumes coming to the market were low.
He added that buyers were currently getting some of the coffee from surrounding districts in Buhweju and Kitagwenda.
Meanwhile, Robusta coffee prices rose by sh200 to trade at sh8,000 per clean kilo, depending on quality and area. This shows an increase from sh7,800 at the beginning of September.
However, Monday Tanazio, from Rushango town council in Ibanda North County, said both Arabica and Robusta were trading at sh8,000 per kilo at coffee factories in the area.
The price increase is riding on the back of optimism of a good crop this harvest season that started in some parts of Ibanda in late September. The harvest season is expected to peak mid-October to early November.
Robusta coffee prices hit a record high of sh8,200 last season, but traders and cooperatives are projecting better prices for the beans this season.
David Kiiza, the chairperson of Kashangura Coffee Growers Cooperative Society, said that a good crop always attracts many dealers, which boosts prices to the benefit of farmers.
“We expect prices to increase during the peak period of the harvest season from late October through to mid-November,” said Kiiza.
He attributed the good quality coffee coming to market to the adoption of modern farming practices like application of fertilisers, pruning, mulching, pests and disease control.
PHOTO CAPTION: A A farmer sorting coffee beans. By Stephen Nuwagira