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India forecasts normal monsoon rains this year

06/01/2021 | 07:02am EDT
FILE PHOTO: A person rides a scooter through a waterlogged road during monsoon rain showers in Mumbai

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is likely to receive normal monsoon rains this year, weather officials said on Tuesday, upgrading a prior forecast and boosting expectations for larger farm output amid a devastating second wave of COVID-19 infections.

The monsoon, which is expected to hit the southern coast around Thursday, is crucial for India's $2.7-trillion economy, as it delivers nearly 70% of the rain needed by farms, besides replenishing reservoirs and aquifers.

The rainfall is expected to be well distributed, with most areas expected to receive an average to above-average amount, said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

"Weather conditions have become even more favourable since we issued our last forecast in April, and that's why we've upgraded our forecast," Mohapatra told a news conference.

The weather office set its forecast at 101% in a range of average, or normal, rainfall that it defines as being between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 88 cm (35 inches) for the entire four-month season.

Its April forecast had put the figure at 98%.

Monsoon rains are expected to be average at the beginning of the season in June, Mohapatra said. It is a time when tens of thousands of farmers typically start planting crops such as rice, corn, cotton, soybeans, sugarcane and peanuts.

The IMD will issue its forecast for July rainfall in the last week of June.

India's northwest, which grows rice and cotton, could get average rainfall, while the central region, where soybean, sugar cane and cotton are grown, could receive rainfall that is above the average, the department added.

Southern India, where rice, rubber and coffee are grown, could get average rainfall, but the rains could be below average in the northeastern rice- and tea- growing region, it said.

The revised monsoon forecast would help the farm sector and minimise the risk of an escalation in food inflation at the time of an upswing in global commodity prices, said QuantEco Research economist Yuvika Singhal.

Nearly half of India's farmland gets no irrigation and is dependent on the annual rains from June to September. Farming accounts for nearly 15% of the economy but sustains more than half of a population of 1.3 billion.

Monsoon rains usually lash the southern tip of Kerala state around June 1 and retreat by September.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav and Mayank Bhardwaj; Additional reporting by reporting Swati Bhat in Mumbai; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Clarence Fernandez)

By Rajendra Jadhav and Mayank Bhardwaj

ę Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CORN FUTURES (C) - CBR (FLOOR)/C1 -1.48% 550.5 End-of-day quote.13.02%
CORN?FUTURES (SETTLEMENT ONLY) (ZC) - CBR (FLOOR)/C11 0.00%End-of-day quote.0.00%
S&P GSCI CORN INDEX -0.32% 454.6955 Delayed Quote.13.02%
S&P GSCI SOY BEANS INDEX -1.32% 526.6495 Delayed Quote.2.92%
SOYBEAN MEAL FUTURES (ZM) - CBE (ELECTRONIC)/C1 -2.24% 349.2 End-of-day quote.-18.83%
ZR (ZR) - CBE (ELECTRONIC)/C1 -0.70% 13.4 End-of-day quote.8.83%
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