Mumbai: India’s annual monsoon rains have advanced to more regions across the country, the weather department said on Monday, boosting the prospects for rice, cotton and groundnut.
The rains, crucial to India’s economy, reached West Bengal, the country’s biggest rice producer, on Sunday, it said in a statement.
Nature’s bounty: A woman plants paddy saplings in a village near Bhubaneswar in Orissa, which is India’s fifth largest producer of rice
The four-month monsoon rains spread to Gujarat in the west, Orissa in the east and Bihar in the north on Monday, the Indian Meteorological Department said.
The monsoon, which hit Kerala in late May, has progressed to all the states ahead of schedule, the weather department’s website www.imd.gov.in showed.
Gujarat is India’s biggest groundnut and cotton producer, contributing about 40% and 35%, respectively, of the annual output. Orissa is the fifth biggest rice producer.
The rains hit Maharashtra on Saturday, three days ahead of the usual time of arrival. The state is the largest producer of sugar and second biggest cotton and soya bean producer.
The weather department said conditions were favourable for the rains to cover more parts of Gujarat, Orissa, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, southern Andhra Pradesh and some parts of central Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
The monsoon usually envelopes the entire country by the middle of July, providing the main source of water for agriculture, which contributes about 17% to India’s gross domestic product.
Good rains have helped Asia’s third largest economy to grow 9% in the past three years.
Farming and related activities provide livelihood to more than two-thirds of India’s 1.1 billion people. Good rains usually boost farm income and spur rural demand for a wide range of industrial goods from soaps to motorcycles.
The weather department has forecast near-normal monsoon rains for 2008, at about 99% of the average between 1941 and 1990. This could provide a breather to the government battling high inflation.
India’s wholesale price index rose 8.24% in the 12 months to 24 May, the highest level in almost four years, driven in part by a spike in food prices.