New Delhi: Heavy showers, particularly in soybean regions, have narrowed the shortfall in India’s monsoon rains to 9%, raising hopes of strong harvests in the world’s leading consumer of rice, vegetable oils and sugar.
Farmers have already planted rice, oilseeds, cane and cotton in a larger area than last year, and are expected to further expand cultivation as the vital June-September monsoon progresses.
Total rainfall since 1 June was only 9% short of normal, improving rapidly from a deficit of 16% on 19 July as the rain-bearing monsoon winds ended a weak phase in the middle of the month.
In the soybean-growing central regions, the shortfall in monsoon rains since 1 June has narrowed to 6% on Sunday from 18% on 19 July.
The weather office has forecast widespread rainfall along India’s west coast and soybean-growing central regions this week.
In the first week of August, rainfall is likely to decrease in the central regions but areas near the foothills of the Himalayas may receive more rain, the weather office said in its two-week forecast.
The weather office expects total June-September rainfall to be normal, which would help the government control rising inflation that has triggered a series of protests.
India’s farm output, which suffered last year because of the drought, is expected to rise if rainfall is close to normal as forecast by the weather office.
Increase in rainfall is expected to boost water level in India’s main reservoirs, which are important for irrigation and power generation.
Official data showed on Friday that the reservoirs were filled to 19% of their capacity, crawling up from 17% a week ago, but well below the normal level of 29% at this time of the year.