New Delhi: India’s monsoon rains were near normal for the third successive week in the seven days to 2 September, officials said, likely helping boost depleted reservoirs levels and providing a last lift for the soya bean crop.
Boosting reservoirs: Rainfall across the country was 4% above normal in the seven days to 2 September but was unevenly distributed. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
One weather office official said rainfall across India was 4% above normal but unevenly distributed, with the southern region getting 49% more than normal while the sugar cane- and rice-growing north-western states were about 21% in deficit.
Rainfall was 24% above average in the central soya bean-producing region, helping the crop which had suffered after a three-week dry spell from the end of July, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Total seasonal rainfall across India for the full June-September season is still forecast to be 20% below normal despite the recent spurt, after a poor start due to the driest June in 83 years.
Cumulative rains from the start of the season were a quarter lower than average a week ago, and officials said the deficit would have narrowed to about 23%.
India Meteorological Department has forecast rains for next 24 hours, and industry officials said the recent pick-up in rains would help crops in central India.
“The rains during last 48 hours would help improve yield,” said A.S. Chandel, director of soy bean development programme of the trade body Soy bean Processors Association of India. “Recent rains will help growth of late-sowing varieties and mitigate losses done to early-sown varieties,” he said.
Traders and industry officials expect soya bean output in India, the world’s top edible oil buyer, could fall 9-19% this year due to the failed monsoon.
India had soya bean crops on 9.49 million ha as of 28 August, marginally lower than 9.52 million ha a year ago. India produced 9.9 million tonnes of soya bean in 2008.
Meanwhile, water levels in India’s main reservoirs rose to 45% of capacity on 3 September, up 3 percentage points. But reservoir capacity is still well below the 10-year average of 60% for this time of year.