India expects third straight normal monsoon; good news for farm sector

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India’s vital monsoon rains that feed its rivers and a large chunk of land under agriculture are expected to be normal for the third straight year, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its first forecast.

It said in a statement that India would receive 97 percent of the long-period average rainfall this year.

“There is a very less probability of deficit monsoon,” KJ Ramesh, director general of meteorology at the IMD said. Between 96 percent and 104 percent of the long-period average is considered a normal monsoon, and the margin of error is 5 percent.

The IMD forecast comes days after a similar prediction by the private weather forecast agency Skymet, which said the monsoon this year was likely to remain normal at 100 per cent (with an error margin of +/-5 per cent) of the long period average of 887 mm for the four-month period from June to September

Agriculture and allied activities account for more than half of employment in the country, but contributes a mere 16 percent to India’s gross domestic product.

A normal monsoon is key for rural consumption and political and economic morale as India gets into a long election season from this year. Good rains will help the Bharatiya Janata Party government to feed into people’s optimism ahead of the parliamentary elections due next year.

The IMD said that it would issue its next forecast in June and release an assessment of the onset of monsoon in the southern state of Kerala on May 15.

Usually the monsoon breaks on the Kerala coast by June 2 and then travels upwards, covering vast swathes of the country.

Last year, India just about managed to receive normal rainfall—95 percent of the long-period average. The distribution was uneven with only the southern states receiving normal rainfall.

Rains in east, northeast, northwest and central India were lower than the long-term average.

Uttara is a correspondent with Indoasiancommodities. You can write to her on uttara.malhotra@indoasiancommodities.in.

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