Uganda earned US$4.79mn from the 3,100 tonnes of cocoa exported in 2002, an increase of 84% it earned in 2001.

Steven Humphreys, the high value crop production and marketing adviser with the USAid-funded Idea project, says Uganda earned US$2.7mn in cocoa exports in 2001.

Humphreys says the civil unrest in Cote d”Ivoire, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, had created a shortage on the global market, a situation that has hiked cocoa prices.

“Ivory Coast produces over one million tonnes of cocoa annually, while Uganda had 3,100 tonnes last year. Since it is such a huge producer, the crisis there has caused a cocoa beans scarcity forcing buyers to look elsewhere,” Humphreys says.

The main export market for Uganda’s cocoa is the Netherlands and Germany, where it is mainly used in the chocolate industry.

Local cocoa farmers in Uganda, who total 6,000, earn USh2,000 per kilo of cocoa dry beans.

Ugandan Cocoa Farmers Association (UCA) executive director, Mutooro Constance Basisa, says the high global prices (between US$2,000-US$2,400 per tonne) caused anxiety among local middlemen who rushed to local farmers demanding for wet beans.

“The little cocoa that is in Uganda was being rushed for by buyers. In turn, the middlemen went to farmers asking them to harvest whatever it is that they had. In some cases wet beans whose quality is poor, were being exported raising complaints from buyers,” Basisa comments.

Together with Idea, Cocoa Development Programme and Uganda National Bureau of Standards, UCA came up with a code of practice giving guidelines to farmers, middlemen and exporters on protecting the sector.