New Delhi: India’s monsoon rains were 26% above normal in the week to 17 August, strengthening from a 14% above normal reading in the previous week, the weather office said on Thursday.
In particular, rice, cotton, oilseeds, lentils and cereal growing areas of northwest India saw well above average rainfall.
Rains were also heavy over oilseed and cotton growing areas of Gujarat, and over rice and cotton growing areas of Punjab.
In eastern India, rains were mixed as rice areas of West Bengal received heavy rains, but they were below average in Orissa.
“Rains over northwest India will decrease next week,” a source in the weather office said.
“The monsoon will improve in central India,” he added.
In the central Indian regions of Madhya Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra, rains were as much as 28% below normal in the past week.
The source also said rainfall should increase next week in cane growing areas of Maharashtra and adjoining rice and cotton growing areas of Andhra Pradesh, which overall had rains 56% above normal last week although these areas were drier.
India’s June to September monsoon rains are crucial for crop production in 60% of the country that does not have adequate irrigation.
Last year, rainfall was 6% below normal in the week to 18 August. Rains in the four-month season overall ended as normal.
Distribution of rains at this stage is more important than quantity as crops are in the growing stage and need only rains at regular intervals.
In its latest forecast, the weather office said August-September rains would be 90% of the long-term average. It retained its earlier estimate of just below normal showers in the June-September season as a whole.