Burundian Coffee Output Falls 52% in Lower-Yielding Cycle

May 30, 2014 7:45 am ET

(Updates coffee prices in final paragraph.)

May 30 (Bloomberg) -- Burundi’s coffee output fell 52 percent last season as farmers contended with unpredictable weather conditions and a lower-yielding crop cycle, the regulatory authority’s technical director said.

Production of the beans in the landlocked East African nation dropped to 11,00O metric tons in the harvest season to February from 23,000 tons a year earlier, Marius Bucumi said in an interview on May 26 in the capital, Bujumbura.

“Due to the impact of the war, demographic pressure and the lack of fertilizers in the past years and the climate change now, coffee continues to decrease in Burundi even though efforts to face the challenges are being gathered,” he said. For those reasons, the country probably won’t meet its target of producing 22,000 tons of coffee in 2014-15, said Bucumi.

East Africa’s smallest economy, with an annual gross domestic product of $2.5 billion, relies on agriculture, mostly coffee and tea production, for more than a third of its economic output. The African Development Bank and World Bank support the government’s bid to sell all state-owned washing stations, deregulate the sector and seek other types of private investment for better management of the industry.

Coffee production has fallen from a peak of more than 40,000 tons in the mid-1990s, just before a 12-year civil war caused farmers to flee their fields and blocked fertilizer imports, decimating agriculture, according to the authority.

Coffee sales generated $107.1 million last season from $126.6 million in 2012-13, Bucumi said.

The country mainly produces arabica beans of “excellent” quality, according to Schluter SA, a Switzerland-based trader specializing in African coffee.

Arabica coffee futures fell 2.8 percent to $1.77 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York today, paring the advance this year to 60 percent.