Monsoon 24% below normal

Monsoon 24% below normal

New Delhi: Monsoon rains, vital for the farm-dependent economy, were 24% below normal in the week to 14 July, sources in the weather office said, reviving fears of crop loss if rainfall remains weak.

The relatively dry spell has not yet hurt agriculture, but is a matter of concern as July is the most important month for sowing key crops such as soybean, rice, cotton, cane and corn.

“It is not a healthy situation," said S. Raghuraman an analyst with Agriwatch, a New Delhi-based consultancy.

The weather office had forecast that rainfall in July would recover to 98% of normal in July after falling 16% short of average last month.

India is counting heavily on good monsoon rains this year after last year’s drought that triggered a sharp rise in inflation and provoked widespread protests.

Although rainfall was low, the weakest after the 25% deficit in the last week of June, weather officials said the rain had been well distributed and the soil moisture was adequate after heavy showers in early July.

In the week ended 9 July, the monsoon rains were 2% above normal due to the revival in central India after a two-week lull in mid-June.