Colombia's coffee sales are forecast to surge 60% to US$1.56bn in 2005 - its highest increase in 15 years - fuelled by soaring prices, local trade lobby Federacion Nacional del Cafe announced.

However, exports are expected to reach 10.7m sacks (of 125 kilograms), down from 11m sacks last year, hurt by the local peso currency's rise against the US dollar, an FNC official confirmed.

Colombian coffee grain prices have jumped as high as $1.30 per pound this year, up from $0.70 last year, local press reported. But the currency's rise (estimated at 10% this year) is prompting worries about the sector's long-term health.

The FNC official said that the industry is lobbying the government to find ways to resolve the matter to prevent future sale declines.

Roughly 560,000 Colombian families live from coffee harvesting, which mostly takes place in the Quindio, Caldas, Risaralda, Tolima, Antioquia and Valle regions.