Normal Monsoon Forecast For Third Consecutive Year, Augurs Well For Rural Economy

When the southwest monsoon made an appearance over Mumbai in June last year. (Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

For the third consecutive year, India will have a normal south-west monsoon. This means the country will receive normal rains, which could boost rural economy. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast, India will get 97 per cent of the long term average rains during the south-west monsoon that is key to the kharif or summer crops for which sowing begins in late May or early June.

Kharif crops make up nearly 60 per cent of the total foodgrains production in the country. The south-west monsoon makes up 70 per cent of the total annual rainfall in India.

Financial daily The Hindu BusinessLine quoted IMD Director-General K J Ramesh as saying that chances of a deficient monsoon are remote with the possibility being a low 14 per cent.

Bloomberg Quint reported that the IMD will come out with its next forecast in June and release an assessment of the onset of monsoon in Kerala on May 15.

Though India received normal south-west monsoon in 2016 and 2017, the distribution of rainfall was uneven. For example, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Karnataka received deficient rainfall in 2016 – when India received 105 per cent of the long term average-, while parts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana received deficient rainfall last year when 95 per cent of the long term average showers were received. The uneven spread of rainfall can affect the prospects of some key crops.

The forecast of a normal monsoon comes when the country is going through one of its driest periods. Premonsoon showers from 1 March to 4 April were scanty and key agricultural states like Punjab and Maharashtra received no rains during this period. Nearly 35 meteorological sub-divisions in the country have received scanty rainfall with 15 of them not receiving any rain. Leading up to kharif sowing, the dryness could affect soil moisture or delay sowing.

For the Narendra Modi Government that will face elections within a year, the forecast of a good monsoon is a good augury. However, this will likely lead to good crop production and the Government will have to ensure fair and remunerative price to farmers. Last year, the Government faced problems in view of lower prices for cotton, groundnut and pulses. Despite complaints of lower prices, the rural economy has been vibrant with record sales of motorcycles, cars and tractors in rural areas in 2017-18 fiscal.

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