South Asia monsoon seen normal: Met Dept

South Asia monsoon seen normal: Met Dept

Pune: Monsoon rains in South Asia are expected to be normal this year, a top Meteorological Department official said, raising hopes of lower inflation and a rebound in output of cane, soybean and rice after drought last year.

“Based on the prevailing global climate indicators and forecasts from global statistical and dynamic models, rainfall over South Asia is likely to be within the normal range," A.K. Srivastava, director of the Indian Meteorological Department, told reporters on Thursday.

The regional forecast was based on discussions with officials of the World Meteorological Orgnaisation and representatives from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives at the three-day South Asia Climate Outlook Forum in the western Indian city of Pune.

The Indian weather office will issue a separate forecast for the country next week, based on a historical set of parameters modelled on a supercomputer.

Normal monsoon rainfall would boost key summer crops such as soybean, reducing purchases by the world’s top importer of edible oils, and reduce sugar imports by the world’s top consumer of the sweetener.

It would also ease pressure on the government, which has faced widespread protests and rowdy scenes in parliament as it struggled to control soaring food prices that were up an annual 17% last month.

“A good monsoon will not only boost crops sown in June and July, it will also help crops such as wheat planted during October-September," said Amol Tilak, senior analyst at Kotak Commodities in Mumbai.

Good June-September monsoon rains help crops sown even in the following months by boosting soil moisture and replenishing reservoirs that irrigate winter crops apart from generating power.

“With adequate rains, we can expect a reasonably higher output of oilseeds," Tilak said.

Srivastava said by weakening El Nino weather phenomenon, which disrupts normal weather patterns, would help the monsoon, and there were chances of La Nina, the opposite and favourable phenomenon, developing.

Last month, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said El Nino had peaked, but was expected to influence climate patterns up to mid-year before dying out

India’s annual June-September monsoon rains, which delivers 75-90% of total rainfall, were the weakest in 37 years in 2009, ravaging rice and oilseed crops.