Although the central Government is yet to announce official Referendum results, media outlets have published a figure of 98% in favour of establishing a separate region for Sidama, therefore we are expecting that Sidama will, in time, become the 10th administrative region of Ethiopia; in our view a positive step for harmony within the country. Since the referendum on the 20th of November the area has remained calm and if this is any indication for the upcoming (May 2020) Elections then we are hopeful for that next year’s poll will be a success.

Yet again a wet week in the region, indeed heavy rain in most of East Africa, Djibouti ferried badly with flash floods damaging infrastructure and disrupting port activities. In the coffee growing regions of Ethiopia there was more unseasonal rain, heavy and persistent at times, and increasingly we hear coffee industry stakeholders voicing concerns about the upcoming crop, particularly in the South (Sidamo, Yrgacheffe and Guji) due to rain delaying the crop and impeding normal harvest and primary processing activities; after all we need sun to ripen cherries and to dry parchment/cherries; we have a team visiting the South and West coffee growing regions over the next 2 weeks so will have a clearer idea of the impact weather has had on crop development my mid December.

Prices for cherry have stopped their steady increase and even retreated; we hear that the price being paid in Sidamo is 13 Birr/kg cherry which is a decrease from what was reported last week; the lower price is a consequence of Washing Station owner refusing to pay up as the flow increases and information that the export market will not pay these high prices and this news trickles down to the coffee growing areas ; as more and more washing stations are in the hands of shippers the flow of information and reaction time to market conditions is better and faster. This is a very positive consequence of the liberalisation policies pursued in recent years.

The minimum price policy that has been the focus of much attention in recent weeks is once again being reviewed by the authorities since shippers and other stakeholders have voiced their serious concerns about the measures that had been tabled; therefore we are none the wiser as to what will finally emerge from the Coffee and tea Authority.

by Charles Seara Cardoso

After a delay of a few weeks the Sidamo Referendum was held on Wednesday, 2.2 Million registered voters cast their ballot to decide if the Sidamo area should become an independent region; it is expected that the results will show that Ethiopia is on the path to add a new region to the already existing 9 autonomous regions that make up the country. The ballot was largely peaceful with many people waiting in line for many hours to cast their vote. Official results are expected in a few days’ time. There are other Ethnic groups that are also seeking recognition in other regions so the  challenge for the prime minister will be how to appear to be dealing fairly with all these demands without unleashing tension, that could lead to violence as seen in the recent past. All this is happening 6 months before a General Election, a period when pent up frustrations come to the fore; on a more positive note if the May electoral process emulates what happened on Wednesday the Elections will be a success.

Drier weather this week helping the harvest, bringing on cherry ripening and allowing for coffee to dry once picked and processed.

Cherry Prices seem to be on the up we have reports of prices up to 16 Birr in Sidamo and 18 in Guji; In Yirgacheffe prices are as high as 20 Birr. It seems that if the drier weather continues in the South there will be a flood of cherries to the washing stations, however shippers are concerned that a higher percentage of the crop ill become Naturals rather than Washed coffees; let’s see what happens in the coming weeks. Some fresh coffees from Keffa and Limu have started to appears at the ECX. Also of note is the improvement in Natural quality offered at the ECX in the last 2 or 3 weeks, which has allowed shippers to acquire better quality coffee to fulfil their current commitments. We expect the flow of current crop Naturals to ECX to continue as middlemen need to start focusing on the new crop.

As we have discussed the Ethiopian Coffee & Tea Authority aims to more closely align ECX prices to FOB Djibouti prices, in this regard a minimum price will be set and revised every 15 days, whereby exporters have to register sales at a price above the set minimum price. A further proposal is to punish those that do not follow the regulations, if exporters register a sale below the minimum price by more than 5%, the exporter will, in the first instance, be fined; a second infringement will result in a further penalty and disqualification to register any further contracts at NBE or to purchase coffee from the ECX. Discussions on this regulation are ongoing, we are expecting more news in the next few days.

by Charles Seara Cardoso

Next week we have the long-awaited Referendum that could see the Southern region divided into 2 smaller administrative regions; ongoing rains in the Southern region continues to delay the ripening of the Sidama crop; in Limu, the weather has been dry, the prevailing good conditions are aiding the picking and primary processing of the crop there. The price being paid in Limu is stable and unchanged to last week. Weather in the Sidama area needs to be monitored since the ongoing rains have delayed the ripening of cherries and could disrupt the processing of the crop. The fate of the ECX is again being discussed at the Government level, with reports that a decision will be made by the Prime Minister soon.

Continued sales activity Current Crop Naturals registered at NBE at attractive differentials either side of -20 FOB for D5 and L5 respectively; Exporters that have washing stations are also starting to offer new crop Washed Coffees at similar levels to current Colombia differentials.

by Charles Seara Cardoso

The voter registration process has started for the Referendum that will take place in the Southern Region in 2 weeks’ time; Crop development wise picking is progressing at a slower pace than we had expected a few weeks ago, so far, less than 10% has been picked in Sidama region; in Limu 20-30% has already been picked which in line with our expectations. He price being paid in Limu is around 12 Birr. Weather is normal for this time of the year some rain and plenty of sunshine!

Prices being registered at NBE for Current Crop Naturals in differentials vs. Z Djimma 5 -22 and Lekempti 5 -19; new crop Washed Coffee differentials Limu 2 H+35 and Sidamo 2 a couple of pennies more.

by Charles Seara Cardoso

After an eventful week, the last week of October has been much calmer, with the political status quo returning to Addis, a quiet simmer after boiling over! Crop wise, picking continues with prices being paid for Cherry varying between 10-11 Birr per Kg cherry in Sidama; 

The terminal market’s upwards trajectory in the last few days has allowed for some more in line with expectations differentials to be registered at the National Bank Of Ethiopia (NBE); a sample of yesterday’s registered prices follow:

Djimma 5 @ 83 c/lb

Sidamo 4 @ 108 c/lb

Limu 3 @ 115 c/lb

Outright offers for New Crop Washed coffee still firm, terminal strength translates to lower differentials however we expect that the terminal market will have to rise a few more cents before differentials become attractive.

The weather has brought no surprises these last few days. Some rains in the highlands to the South, dry in Addis.

by Charles Seara Cardoso