OPEN APP
Home >Industry >Agriculture >Skymet forecasts well-distributed, adequate monsoon

New Delhi: India’s June-September monsoon rainfall is likely to be “well distributed" and “adequate", according to a forecast for the season by weather analytics firm Skymet Weather Services Pvt. Ltd, boosting the likelihood of an economic recovery if the prediction is proven right.

Skymet issued its forecast on Wednesday, ahead of that by state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The monsoon will be on time and therefore allow the normal sowing of the summer crop across the country, Skymet said. India is expected to get more rain than it usually does in the four months and there is only a 12% chance of deficient rainfall, it said.

The irregular nature of the monsoon rain last year reduced India’s summer crop and contributed to rising inflation as well as depressed consumer demand.

The summer monsoon is critical to India as 55% of farmland does not have access to irrigation. Agriculture accounts for about one-fifth of the economy, and bigger harvests may cool the highest food inflation among major economies and sustain exports of rice and wheat.

Good rains will be a positive sign for agricultural growth and are likely to boost production this year, Prasoon Mathur, an analyst at Religare Commodities Ltd, told Bloomberg.

The weakest monsoon in three years in 2012 parched parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat, cutting the harvests of sugar cane, cotton and rice. The agriculture sector is set to expand 1.8% this year, the least in three years, according to the government’s annual Economic Survey. The economy will expand 5% in 2012-2013, the least in a decade, according to the government.

India’s more than 235 million farmers depend on rain for irrigating crops such as rice and cotton. The monsoon, which brings more than 70% of the annual rain, usually makes landfall in the South in June and covers the whole country by 15 July.

Unlike IMD, which bases its forecast on a statistical base of monsoon performances over a century, Skymet uses a so-called dynamical model. This approach simulates the weather on a particular day and extrapolates this into the future, relying heavily on computer processing power. Mint uses Skymet data for some weather-related content.

Several experts say that though dynamical modelling is the gold standard of weather forecasting, none of the models employed have proven accurate over a long period in forecasting the monsoon.

IMD is expected to publicize the first of its official forecasts next week, and has also said that it will make known the predictions from its own dynamical model that it has been testing for eight years.

To be sure, Skymet had said last May that there was a 40% chance of below-normal rain in monsoon 2012. It, however, didn’t anticipate the weak rainfall in June and July, and the munificent rains in August that together saw India register an 8% deficit—much better than the 15% deficit that was expected in July—over its long-period average.

Its monsoon expectation for this year is in line with preliminary estimates by several international agencies.

The South Korean APEC Climate Center as well as the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts have both said that the Indian monsoon is likely to be above normal. The International Research Institute for Climate and Society in the US has also indicated normal rainfall conditions.

However, the positive outlook comes with some caveats, according to Skymet.

“The El Nino risk is almost negligible, though we expect marginally reduced rainfall in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and northern Madhya Pradesh in June and July; and in peninsular India in August," said Jatin Singh, chief executive officer of Skymet. This was due to the possible anomalous behaviour of sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean, he said.

Officials from IMD didn’t comment on the forecasts. One meteorologist familiar with IMD’s forecast methodology, but who didn’t want to be identified, concurred that while the monsoon outlook looked positive as of now, things could change dramatically in the coming months. “Look at last year. Nobody expected such a poor show in April, and everyone expected bad rains in August and September on account of the El Nino," said the official, “and it turned out just the opposite. This is still early days."

Bloomberg contributed to this story.

Subscribe to Mint Newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Click here to read the Mint ePaperMint is now on Telegram. Join Mint channel in your Telegram and stay updated with the latest business news.

Close
×
Edit Profile
My ReadsRedeem a Gift CardLogout