Normal rains likely in June despite delay in onset: IMD

Written by Geeta Nair | Banikinkar Pattanayak | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 7 2012, 08:43am hrs
India will likely receive normal monsoon showers in June despite a delay in onset over the Kerala coast by four to five days from the usual date of June 1, government officials said on Wednesday, boosting hopes of a good summer harvest for a third straight year since 2009 when a drought had clipped production.

The El Nino effect (which adversely affects monsoon) is unlikely to surface in June and monsoon is close to normal, Shivanand Pai, lead long range forecaster at the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), told FE. The weather office is expected to issue its next long-range monsoon rainfall forecast by around June 25, which will give a clearer picture of showers in July, he said, adding that the supposed delay in onset was well within the forecast range.

A slight delay in the onset of monsoon over Kerala coast wont jeopardise Indias farm prospects, but if there are scanty showers in June, sowing may be affected, outgoing farm secretary PK Basu had said last week.

Stakes on monsoon are rising as any deviation has the potential to shrink farm production, hurt rural income and drive up food prices at a time when the government is struggling to curb inflation and prop up a faltering economy. Facing challenges to boost a weakening economy, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed confidence this week that a normal monsoon, apart from falling crude prices, will help boost growth.

Rainfall in the June-September season is likely to be 99% of the 50-year average of 89 cm, IMD said in April. It defines normal monsoon rains as 96% to 104% of the long-period average (LPA), which refers to the average showers received between 1951 and 2000. There is 47% probability of a normal rainfall season, 24% of below-normal and less than 10% of either excess or deficient showers, it had added.

Although the quantum of rainfall is important, monsoons timely arrival and progress and geographical spread are equally significant for boosting farm output. June and July are the crucial months for monsoon this year as some weather models have suggested a revisit of the El Nino conditions, responsible for the worst drought in 37 years in 2009, may come into play in the later part of the season.

The June-September monsoon season is crucial as over 60% of the countrys farmland is rain-fed and more than a half of the countrys population is dependent on agriculture for livelihood. The season brings about 70% of annual rains and is crucial for summer-sown crops such as paddy, cotton, sugarcane, pulses, cereals and oilseed, and also boosts ground water reserves for winter planting.

The surge in inflation to 7.23% in April, which showed signs of moderation since December after tripping 9% in each of the first 11 months of 2011, has reflected lingering price pressure in the economy.

There have been good pre-monsoon showers in northern India, especially in parts of Punjab, which receives seasonal monsoon rains towards the end of the month. This will augur well for the sowing of crops, which picks up in July, as some harmful contents in the soil will have been destroyed. As of now, we are optimistic of a normal course of monsoon and good farm production, said JPS Dabas, a senior scientist at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute.