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INTERNATIONAL – Uganda’s coffee farmers have started their first harvest of the season with expectations of a bumper crop in Africa’s top exporter of the beans.

The harvest, which started this month in the main producing central and eastern regions, has benefited from good rains earlier in the year. The country’s coffee authority last week said output in the 2018-19 season may climb 11 percent to 5.1 million 60-kilogram (132-pound) bags because of the better growing conditions.

“We have started the harvest and the season is good,” Tom Mugoya, executive director of the Uganda Coffee Farmers Alliance, said Wednesday by phone from Kampala. “We shall have more coffee than last season.”

Bigger Crop

Uganda, which mostly grows robusta coffee and ships out the bulk of its beans, is boosting output as trees planted in recent years come into production. The state-run Uganda Coffee Development Authority has said the crop may reach 5.8 million bags in 2020 and the country is targeting 20 million bags in 2025.

The harvest that just started may run through February. The second major harvest, which runs from May to July in the south and southwest, may also be big because of good weather, Mugoya said. Central and eastern regions reap their secondary crop during this period.

The Uganda National Meteorological Authority said early last month that most areas would have above-normal rainfall from then through December.