New Delhi: India’s economy could be set for a significant rebound this year, with the weather office predicting above-normal rains in the South-West Monsoon.

“Monsoon rainfall will be 106% of the long period average which is above normal and there is a 94% probability that monsoon will be normal to excess, “ said L.S Rathore, director general, India Meteorological Department. He added that rainfall will be fairly well distributed.

The forecast should bring cheer to farmers, as well as policy makers who have faced the brunt of two years of poor rains. Combined with the government’s aggressive efforts to revive the rural economy, and its focus on creating infrastructure, it could result in a better than expected GDP growth in 2016-17.

Around 49% of India’s workforce depends on agriculture for a livelihood and 68% of the country’s population resides in rural areas.

The monsoon is considered normal when the rainfall is 96 to 104% of the Long Period Average and is considered above normal when it is 105% to 110% of LPA.

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The June to September monsoon season is crucial, with its onset kick-starting the sowing season for summer crops in the country. India receives 80% of its annual rainfall in this period and more than half the country’s farmland is rain-fed.

Last year’s monsoon saw a rainfall deficit of 14%, which was mainly attributed to El Niño, a weather phenomenon caused by unusual warming in the Pacific Ocean, resulting in atmospheric changes. The year before that, India recorded a monsoon rainfall deficit of 12%. Australia’s weather office said on Tuesday that there is a 50% chance of La Nina this year. This phenomenon has the opposite effect of El Nino, and could result in more rain in India.

Eleven states declared a drought in the country after last year’s failed rains which have also led to depleting water levels in reservoirs.