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Uganda considers developing drought-resistant coffee beans

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[January 28, 2014]  By Elias Biryabarema

KAMPALA (Reuters)  Uganda, Africa's biggest coffee exporter, wants to develop a coffee bean that is resistant to drought to help mitigate the impact of climate change on its crop, the state-run industry regulator said on Tuesday.

The east African nation expects to export 3.50 million 60-kg bags in the 2013/14 (Oct-Sept) coffee season, a fraction below the previous year's 3.58 million bags and has cited low rainfall as one reason for the lower yield.

"We have to have (coffee) varieties that are adaptable to climate change," Henry Ngabirano, managing director of the state-run Uganda coffee development authority (UCDA), told Reuters.

"Now that we have the effects of climate change being felt, the research efforts will be able to address this by say developing drought tolerant or resistant material or coming up with varieties that use less water."

British charity Oxfam warned in 2008 that changing weather patterns in Uganda could leave much of Uganda unsuitable for growing coffee within 30 years if temperatures rose by 2 degrees or more.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Richard Lough and Keiron Henderson)

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