By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s export earnings rose 64 percent to $563.39 million in the first quarter of the 2010/11 fiscal year, lifted by higher coffee and leather sales, government trade data obtained by Reuters showed on Tuesday.
Last year the Ministry of Trade and Industry said Ethiopia earned $343 million in the first quarter (July-Sept) of 2009/10.
Addis Ababa projects $3 billion in export revenue for 2010/11 (June-July) after a resurgence of coffee sales and diversification into new commodities earned $2 billion in the previous year.
Coffee earnings in Africa’s biggest exporter hit $184.7 million in the first quarter of 2010/11, compared with $104.7 million in the year ago period, trade ministry figures showed.
The country earned $528 million from coffee in the 2009/2010 fiscal year.
The Horn of Africa prides itself on being the birthplace of coffee. Some 15 million smallholder farmers grow the crop, mostly in forested highlands in the west of the country.
Ethiopia wants to boost leather sales by focusing on finished goods instead of raw exports. Leather and leather goods earned $18.7 million in first quarter of 2010/11 from $11 million in the same period last year.
Flowers brought in $35.3 million during the period, while oil seeds fetched $63.3 million.
Ethiopia’s exports in the first three months were also boosted by rising sales of khat — a narcotic leaf — which earned $64.1 million.
Gold exports were worth $71.1 million in the same period.
The trade ministry gave no comparative figures for the first quarter of 2009/10 for flowers, gold and khat.
The government predicts growth of about 10 percent for 2010/2011. The International Monetary Fund says the economy will grow by 7 percent.