- Ethiopian government has shut down warehouses of the country’s six largest exporters of coffee and revoked their licenses after failing to adhere to a call to sell all their produce kept in the warehouses.
Last week, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused exporters of stockpiling coffee while they waited for international prices to rise, a practice he blamed on the country’s current economic crisis.
The Africa’s largest coffee producer has also confiscated 17,000 tonnes of stock of around 80 other traders, saying it would auction the confiscated coffee stockpiles without clearly stating the auction dates.
The government which has expressed concern over the low foreign sales of coffee has last week threaten to take coffee stocks held by producers if they are not sold to government.
The Minister of Agriculture, Tefera Derebew, said coffee producers are expected to export the coffee that has been produced in the last harvesting period, but they still held on the production of such harvest.
"They have been advised by the government to do so but they didn't react so it's the time to take action,” he said further indicating that producers only have five days to appeal their cases and request the government to reconsider its decision.
Producers have reportedly been reluctant to sell their beans through the country's new electronic commodity exchange, which began trading coffee since December last year.
Coffee which is the country’s top foreign exchange earner has experienced a decline estimated at approximately 40 percent since December.
Ethiopia is Africa's biggest coffee producer, its produce accounted for about 60 percent of the nation's foreign exchange revenue in the 2007 to 2008 season.
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