New Delhi: Rainfall in India’s annual monsoon season was below average and less than forecast, with some crop-growing central and northern states receiving less rain than needed, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Saturday as the rainy season ended.

Indian monsoon rains were 95% of the long-term average compared with the IMD’s forecast of 98%, marking the fourth straight year in which the national weather office has overestimated likely rainfall.

The monsoon, which delivers about 70% of India’s annual rainfall, is critical for the farm sector that accounts for about 15% of India’s $2 trillion economy and employs more than half of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

India’s rainfall was below average mostly because of low rainfall in the oilseeds and pulses-growing central state of Madhya Pradesh and in the rice-growing northern states of Haryana and Punjab. While rice output is expected to be down 2% compared with last year due to better irrigation in the rain deficient northern states, soybean output could fall about 8%, the government said this week.

The IMD for the first time adopted the so-called dynamic model, based on a US model tweaked for India, to improve the accuracy of its forecasts.

IMD’s forecast for the 2017 monsoons was its most accurate since 2008, when there was a difference of only 1 percentage point between the forecast and the actual rainfall.

The weather office was similarly accurate in 2011, when the difference was 3 percentage points. Reuters

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