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ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Rains picked up in Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions last week, lifting hopes for healthier production volumes during the April-to-September midcrop, farmers and analysts said on Monday.

Dry, windy weather has crimped output so far this season, with volumes already down about 8 percent from last year, according to exporter estimates.

"We are happy. There is some hope for the cocoa," said Lazard Ake, a farmer on the outskirts of the western town of Soubre where analysts reported 40 mm of rain last week.

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