'Normal rains this year, drought unlikely' | delhi | Hindustan Times
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'Normal rains this year, drought unlikely'

The meteorological department predicted a normal monsoon in India on Friday, raising hopes of an upturn in the farm economy — hammered by last year’s drought, the worst in three decades, reports Zia Haq.

delhi Updated: Apr 24, 2010 02:10 IST
Zia Haq

The meteorological department predicted a normal monsoon in India on Friday, raising hopes of an upturn in the farm economy — hammered by last year’s drought, the worst in three decades.

The southwest monsoon is likely to be 98 per cent of the long period (50-year) average, the weather bureau said. “We consider rainfall between 96 and 104 per cent to be normal. Our model has an error margin of 5 per cent,” Ajit Tyagi, Met department chief, told HT. So theoretically, a repeat drought is still possible.

“Successive droughts are rare,” Tyagi said. Since 1901, only three droughts have been followed by another.

The Met will revise its rain estimate in June.

The June-September monsoon is a critical for India, Asia’s third biggest economy, as two-thirds of Indians depend on agriculture. Patchy rains last year — there was a 22 per cent defic-ient — cut rice output by 14 per cent and sugar by 13 per cent.

Adequate rains will cool food prices, which touched an 11-year high of 19.95 per cent on December 5, 2009.

Food inflation in the 12 months to April 10 was still high at 17.65 per cent, government data on Friday showed.

“Two risk factors for inflation still exist - the actual shape of the monsoon and globally high commodity prices,” said D.K. Joshi, chief economist at Crisil Ltd, the Indian arm of Standard & Poor’s.