India likely to witness robust monsoon this year: IMD

India’s monsoon is likely to be a robust and healthy one this year provided there isn’t a surprise El Nino phenomenon, India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

Monsoon rains, the lifeblood for India’s farm-dependent $2.6 trillion economy, arrive on the southern tip of Kerala state around June 1 and retreat from the desert state of Rajasthan by September, a top official of state-run India Meteorological Department, told Reuters.

India’s 263 million farmers wait for monsoon rains to plant crops such as rice, cane, corn, cotton and soybean because nearly half of the country’s farmland lacks irrigation.

The India Meteorological Department defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96 percent and 104 per cent of a 50-year average of 89 cm for the entire four-month season beginning in June.

In 2017 and 2018, rainfall was 95 per cent and 91 per cent of the long-term average respectively. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) phenomenon could also be a positive development, IMD official said.

The IOD phenomenon is characterised by higher sea-surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean. A positive IOD creates a barrier in the eastern Indian Ocean and all the southwesterly winds blow towards the Indian sub-continent, causing rains in the country.

Weather officials say a positive IOD played a big role in bringing adequate rains to India in 1967, 1977, 1997 and 2006.

The India Meteorological Department is likely to make its first official forecast of this year’s monsoon rains by the middle of April this year.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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