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Uganda delays aim of boosting coffee output fivefold by a decade

[KAMPALA, Uganda] Uganda, Africa's top coffee exporter, pushed back a target of boosting annual output fivefold by a decade because it has taken longer than thought to introduce programs needed to raise production.

The country now expects to reach a target of 20 million 60-kilogram bags a year by 2030 instead of 2020, according to the Agriculture Ministry. Programs related to better plantings and irrigation as well as the application of fertilisers started later than expected, it said. Annual output currently totals about 4 million bags.

"We discovered that 2020 is too close, but the dream is on to ultimately achieve 20 million bags," Christopher Kibazanga, minister of state for agriculture, said Tuesday in an interview in the capital, Kampala.

The nation plans to double production to 8 million bags by 2020, Emmanuel Iyamulemye, managing director of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority, said in a separate interview.

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The continent's second-largest grower wants to increase production to raise farmer incomes and ship out more of its main agricultural export. The country is distributing seedlings to growers, introducing high-yielding varieties and urging farmers to embrace the use of irrigation and crop nutrients. Trees take about two to three years to start yielding.

The robusta variety accounts for at least 80 per cent of Uganda's coffee output, according to the regulator. The bulk of production is exported, with only about 3 per cent of the crop consumed locally.