New Delhi: India’s annual monsoon rains should revive in two days after a 10-day lull, the weather office said on Monday, raising hopes for a pick-up in soybean planting in the world’s biggest edible oils buyer. The June-September rainfall, which irrigates 60% of the country’s farms and drives rural incomes, is vital for the trillion-dollar economy.
A healthy rainfall despite the slow progress could help Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tame high double-digit food inflation, which hit an annual 16.9% in the week ended 12 June.
“We expect the southwest monsoon to cover new areas in the next two days,” B P Yadav, spokesman of the India Meteorological Department, said.
The rains were 12% below normal for 1 June -27 June, the weather office said.
Countrywide rainfall was 122.4mm during the period against a normal 139.7mm.
“We expect some spectacular revival in July,” Yadav said.
The monsoon was above normal in rice, corn and cane growing areas of south India, but sluggish in the rest of the country, including soybean-growing areas of central India.
“Sowing has been slow due to the weak monsoon, but we expect the sowing to improve this week with the revival in rains,” said A S Chandel, a director at the Soybean Processors Association of India at Indore.
Higher soybean output will help the country, Asia’s leading soymeal exporter, ship larger quantities of the animal feed to its traditional buyers such as Japan, Korea and Thailand.
Last week, the weather office said the rains were expected to be better than previously forecast, raising hopes of a good harvest and of reining in double-digit food inflation.
Any drop in food prices will also cool headline inflation, easing pressure on the central bank to raise rates.