Monsoon rains improve in past week

Monsoon rains improve in past week

New Delhi: India’s key monsoon rains were 7% above normal in the week to 20 July, snapping a two-week negative trend, the weather office said on Thursday, but weak rains in rice-growing eastern region have dampened the main summer crop’s output prospects.

Monsoon rains rebounded from 19% below normal recorded in the previous week and from 25% below average during the first week of July, the key planting month for crops like rice, corn, cane, cane, soybean and cotton.

The rains are expected to improve in most areas next week, but for the June-September season, they are still forecast to be slightly below normal.

“Rains could be good over most parts next week, except interior south India where the monsoon continues to be weak," a source at the weather office said.

Monsoon rains irrigate 60% of India, one of the world’s biggest consumers and producers of grains and cooking oils.

During 1 June to 20 July, the monsoon rains were 1% below normal.

India is the world’s second-biggest producer of rice after China and has recently agreed to allow 1 million tonnes of exports as stocks pile following several bumper harvests.

Rains were above average over soybean and cane-growing areas of central and northwest India in the past week. Tea, coffee and rubber growing areas of south India also received above average rainfall.

“Good rains helped finish soybean sowing in central India," said Rajesh Agrawal, an executive committee member of Soybean Processors Association of India, based in the central city of Indore.

Agrawal said while soybean can withstand less rains for next two-to-three weeks, heavy showers could destroy the oilseed crop that has entered the stage of germination.

“Improvement in rainfall over the northwest region will help raise coverage under cotton and pulses," said A.K. Singh, deputy director general of state-run Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

Good harvests of summer crops can cool food prices in Asia’s third-largest economy and help rein in headline inflation, hovering near double digit.

Last year, rainfall was 17% below normal in the week to 21 July, after a weak start in June, but it picked up during the four-month season and ended as normal.