INTRODUCTION: Security measures have been stepped up in Kenya following a spate of robberies of coffee beans and a growing incidence of coffee smuggling from Uganda into Kenya.
INTRODUCTION: Security measures have been stepped up in Kenya following a spate of robberies of coffee beans and a growing incidence of coffee smuggling from Uganda into Kenya. The robberies have been of coffee shipments on their way through Kenya by road and rail.
SYNOPSIS: The situation has been brought about by two factors...the high world prices for coffee, and instability in Uganda. Once Uganda was the biggest coffee grower in the British Commonwealth. Under President Amin's rule, the coffee industry has run down. Growers' returns in Uganda are poor; administrators essential to the industry have left the country, and there's no transport for the coffee beans. Now Ugandan growers are finding a ready market across the Kenyan border for smuggled coffee.
Kenya is worried that Ugandan coffee mixed with finer beans supplied by Kenyan growers to the Kenya Coffee Board might prejudice its international market. There have also been hijacks and robberies of Ugandan and Kenyan coffee shipments on their way by rail and road to the Kenyan port of Mombasa. Recently, a Ugandan appeared in court in Nairobi charged with stealing more than one thousand bags of coffee from railway trucks somewhere between Kisumu and Nairobi.
Kenya is deeply concerned about the situation because coffee is a major export earner. This year it's expected coffee will bring Kenya some 150 million pounds sterling (U.S.$ 256 million). Uganda has imposed a death penalty for smuggling coffee and Ugandans have been killed when caught. In another effort to overcome the smuggling, and transport congestion, Uganda has begun airlifting its coffee to Djibouti in the French Territory of Afars and Issas. Reports suggest that there may be as much as two million bags of Ugandan coffee weighing some 132 pounds (60 kg) each waiting to be exported.