Monsoon to reach India’s rice areas in 2-3 days

Monsoon to reach India’s rice areas in 2-3 days

New Delhi: Monsoon rains are expected to arrive over India’s main rice growing areas this weekend, which could help erase an initial delay in planting of the main summer food crop, weather office sources said on Wednesday.

Monsoon normally spreads to the rice belt of West Bengal and Orissa states in the east by the first week of June, but this year it had paused for about three days.

The two eastern states share one fifth of rice output of India, the world’s second top producer of the grain.

“Good rains are expected over rice areas in eastern region over next two to three days," said a weather office source.

“Rice planting will pick up once rain spreads to growing belt of eastern India," said L.S. Rathore, head of the agromet division of the India Meteorological Department.

India produced 94 million tonnes rice in 2010/11-crop year to June, up 5.6% from the previous year.

India’s vital monsoon has covered tea, coffee, rubber, cane, corn, cotton areas of south India and parts of western region, after arriving over the southern Kerala coast, three days ahead of schedule on 29 May 2011.

“A week long delay would have been a concern for the rice planting, but not this pause in the monsoon progress on the eastern parts," he said.

Rains were 20% below normal over the eastern India for the first week of the four-month long rain season, the weather office’s rainfall data showed.

But the rains were 20% above normal during June 1-7 with most parts of the south India receiving heavy showers.

India’s weather office had predicted a normal monsoon for second straight year in 2011, after the driest season in 2009.

A normal monsoon leading to higher farm output is vital for taming a high food inflation that the third-biggest economy in Asia has been battling since 2010.