The Met department on Tuesday predicted a normal monsoon for the country for the second straight year, boosting prospects of key summer crops and offering respite to a government fighting high food costs in Asia’s third largest economy.
The June-September monsoon is likely to be 98% of the long-period average, minister for science PK Bansal said. Falls between 96% and 104% of the long-term average of 50 years are considered normal. It is unlikely that the rains would be deficient or above-normal, he said.
The HT had reported on Monday, quoting government sources, that the monsoon is likely to be normal. The forecast will be updated in June. The summer rains impacts key sectors of the economy, even though farming constitutes only about a fifth of the country's gross domestic product.
Plentiful rains are vital for kharif or summer-sown crops, such as rice, soyabean, sugar and cotton, as 60% of farmed areas do not have irrigation facilities.
However, a normal monsoon alone is not enough for good crops, which also depend on how timely and evenly spread the summer rains are. Last year, La Nina, a weather pattern marked by lower Pacific Ocean temperatures, caused heavier-than–usual monsoon, which was 102% of the long-term average of 89 centimeters. This helped the country to India produced a record food grain output of 235.9 million tons in the crop year ending June.
Met chief Ajit Tyagi said since the effects of La Nina are waning, it would not help the monsoon in a big way.