New Delhi: After arriving late and then making halting progress across the country, the monsoon has ended the first month with a rainfall deficit. Even though a pick-up in the past week has led to a narrowing of the shortfall, rains in June were 11% less than normal, according to the India Meteorological Department. This comes after IMD forecast above-normal monsoon rainfall this year at 106% of the long-period average.
After two years of failed monsoon, a good spell of rains would have cheered not only farmers and policymakers over the prospect of a revival of rural consumption, but also the wider economy.
In June, the southern peninsula recorded 26% excess rainfall, while the north-west, central, east and north-east India recorded deficit of 7%, 17% and 28%, respectively. The regions hit by the rain deficit are central Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, east Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Gangetic West Bengal and the north-eastern states.
“The deficit has come down from around 23% to 11% within a week. Vidarbha and Marathwada are now receiving normal rainfall. A system has formed and is moving along the Odisha coast which will bring good rainfall in the area. But a major cause for concern are Gujarat and Madhya Maharashtra which faced droughts last year as well,” said N. Chattopadhyay, deputy director general of the agricultural meteorology division at IMD in Pune. “The first 10 days of July are crucial for agriculture,” he added.
The June deficit has shrunk in the past two weeks. In the past week, the country recorded rainfall that was 1% above normal with central India recording 11% excess rainfall.
The IMD has forecast 107% rainfall in July and 104% in August, which will be beneficial for rain-fed kharif crops such as rice, coarse grains, soybean, pulses and cotton, Mint reported on 3 June. Above-normal rains can be expected over north India during the first week and over central India during the second week of July, said an IMD weekly update released on Thursday.
Western parts of the country are likely to receive above-normal rainfall during the second week and the west coast is likely to receive above-normal rainfall till 10 July. Monsoon rains will weaken in the southern peninsula in the beginning of July, while the north-east will receive below-normal rain until 5 July.
The south-west monsoon is crucial to India’s rain-fed agricultural economy, with its onset launching the sowing season for summer crops. India receives 80% of its annual rainfall in this period and more than half the country’s farmland is rain-fed.
Eleven states had declared a drought after last year’s failed monsoon, which led to depleting water levels in reservoirs.
“I don’t see the deficit this month as having an adverse impact. There are many years when rainfall in June was bad, but was good the rest of the season, and there was good agricultural production,”said D.K. Joshi, chief economist at rating company Crisil Ltd. “For agricultural production, rainfall in July and August is important and it should be well distributed.”