NEW DELHI: Bringing good news to India’s drought-hit farmers, private forecasting agency Skymet has raised the country’s monsoon forecast to 109% of the long period average (LPA) from the earlier figure of 105%.
The agency revised the forecast, which comes with a model error of plus-minus four days, on the back of a waning El Nino in the Pacific Ocean.
“India’s June monsoon rainfall is seen at 87% on an average, while for July, it is seen at 108%,” Skymet said on Tuesday, adding that the expected figures for August and September stand at 113% and 123% respectively.
Rejecting reports of a likely delay in the onset of the monsoon, the agency said the waning El Nino may ensure that it reaches Kerala on time.
A few weeks ago, the government-run Met department had said that the rains would arrive only around June 7. The normal onset date of the south-west monsoon is June 1, which marks the start of its four-month journey across the sub-continent. “There are ample reasons for me to be hopeful for this year’s monsoon, followed by an increase in agricultural production. The El Niño kept us all on tenterhooks for the last two years. It is finally tapering off, and has almost reached the threshold neutral value,” said Skymet CEO Jatin Singh in a post on the agency website.
Skymet also predicted that the total area under the cultivation of kharif food grains would increase by 15-20% in 2016, as compared to the previous year. The total production was expected to be around 129-130 million tonnes, it added. India is reeling under drought conditions for the second consecutive year, wreaking havoc on the rural economy. Agriculture, which provides subsistence to over half of India’s population, has been badly hit on account of poor irrigation facilities and overt dependence on the monsoon. In India, LPA is the average rainfall received between 1951 and 2000 – which comes up to 89 cm. Rainfall within 96-104% of the LPA is considered normal, and anything more than that is ‘above normal’.