New Delhi: Rainfall is going to be above normal in the second half of the monsoon at 107% of the long-period average, with an error margin of 8%, according to a forecast by state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday.
Currently, the deficit since the rainy season started in June stands at zero.
August will see 4% more than normal rainfall, said the IMD’s latest forecast, which reiterated that the seasonal rainfall over the whole country is likely to be 106% of the long-period average, with a model error of 4%.
If this forecast comes true, this will the highest monsoon rainfall in India in 25 years.
The monsoon season 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 the June-to-September season and more than half the country’s farmland is rain-fed.
This year’s above-normal monsoon comes after two consecutive deficient monsoon years, leading to drought in several states.
After last year’s failed monsoon, 11 states declared drought and the country faced a severe water crisis as levels in reservoirs dropped to critical levels.
Although the south-west monsoon kicked off with a 11% deficit in June, it picked up pace in July, going 7% above the long-period average, IMD said.
West Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, east Rajasthan, Vidarbha, Marathwada, Madhya Maharashtra, north interior Karnataka, Rayalaseema and Tamil Nadu received widespread and excess rainfall in July.
Nearly 90% of the country has received normal to excess rainfall so far. Sowing of kharif crops stands at 799.51 lakh hectares as compared to 752.29 lakh hectares at this time last year.
A Crisil report last week said that overall, the crop situation is better than the average of the past six years with crops such as coarse grains, pulses and soybean faring better compared to last year.
“The key is distribution of rainfall now and we have to watch out how evenly distributed the rain is. This year, the outlook for agriculture looks good except maybe a few states. Looking at sowing, pulse inflation is most likely to go down,” said D.K. Joshi, chief economist at Crisil.
But excess rainfall has also led to floods in several areas with the states of Assam, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh reeling from the damage inflicted by floods. The Crisil report last week warned that farm output is at risk in case La Niña conditions develop in the coming weeks, leading to excessive rainfall in September when crops mature.
Meanwhile, some regions such as Gujarat, Saurashtra, Kerala, Odisha, Jharkhand and the north-eastern states have received deficient rainfall.
“Above-normal monsoon can be expected in August. Although there were chances of a La Niña developing in the first week of August, now it is likely it will remain neutral and will not affect monsoon,” said Mahesh Palawat, chief meteorologist at private forecaster Skymet Weather Services Pvt. Ltd. “But monsoon will most likely be below normal in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and southern interior Karnataka in August.”
Last year’s monsoon was heavily influenced by the 2015-16 El Niño, a weather phenomenon resulting from warming in the Pacific Ocean, leading to atmospheric changes.
But in the latest forecast from IMD and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, there is a 70% probability of neutral conditions continuing till the end of the monsoon season.
However, some of the global models suggest the development of weak La Niña conditions in the later part of the season.