Mumbai: India has so far received more rainfall this month than a year earlier, likely spurring the sowing of summer crops such as rice, cotton, soybean and peanuts.
The deficit since 1 June was 2% compared with 13% a year ago, M. Rajeevan, director at the India Meteorological Department’s National Climate Centre, said.
The timing of the monsoon rain is crucial for India’s 234 million farmers. A bigger harvest of soybean and peanuts may reduce the need for the country to import palm oil from Malaysia and soyabean oil from Argentina and Brazil. India is the world’s second biggest buyer of cooking oil and almost 80% of its oilseeds crop is rain-fed.
“Rainfall in June was certainly better this year and heavy rains in the past two days would have wiped out any deficit,” Rajeevan said. July will be even more crucial and the outlook so far has been good.” Rainfall in July makes up a third of the June to September rainy season.
Monsoon rains have covered Maharashtra, parts of Gujarat, Orissa, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the weather bureau said on its website. Maharashtra and Gujarat are India’s biggest cotton producers, while Madhya Pradesh is the largest grower of soybeans. Gujarat is also India’s biggest grower of peanuts, the nation’s main summer oilseed crop.
India imported 494,184 tonnes of cooking oil in May, 24% more from a year earlier, as demand rose amid dwindling supplies, the Solvent Extractors’ Association had said on 14 June.
Output of oilseeds may fall 16% to 23.62 million tonnes in the year to June from a year ago, the government had said on 6 February.
Torrential rain that disrupted rail traffic in Mumbai and delayed flights from India’s financial hub since Saturday night may abate, starting Monday, as the weather system that caused the downpour has moved towards West Asia, Rajeevan said. Mumbai received about 6.7 inches of rain since the night of 23 June.
Rainfall in the monsoon season will be 95% of the average reported between 1941 and 1990, a level deemed normal, the weather office had said on 19 April.