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UPDATE 1-Mexico to triple coffee output in 15 years, vice minister says

(Adds comment, 2015 coffee output, program details)

Medellin, July 12 (Reuters) - Mexico aims to more than triple its annual coffee production in the next 15 years due to a renovation program, Mexico's vice minister of agriculture said on Wednesday.

Mexico will harvest 15 million 60-kg bags of coffee within 15 years, up from 3.8 million bags in 2017/18, said Jorge Narvaez, vice minister of Mexican agriculture, speaking at a coffee conference in Medellin, Colombia.

The planned surge in production will be the result of a government-funded program established in 2015, when the country produced just 2.3 million bags of coffee. The output caused the country to experience its first deficit as consumption reached 2.7 million bags, said Vera Espindola Rafael, sustainability and shared value director for Mexico, speaking on the sidelines of the World Coffee Producers Forum.

The program, a combination of government funding and credit mechanisms, aims to increase the average coffee yield in Mexico to 15 quintals (46-kg bags) per hectare (2.5 acres) from 3-5 quintals per hectare, she said.

The Mexican government in 2016 invested $70 million into the program, which will target increasing yields on existing farms and not expanding coffee acreage, she said. (Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)