Weather experts hopeful of monsoon revival

Weather experts hopeful of monsoon revival

New Delhi: India’s monsoon is running four to five days behind schedule and has yet to reach half of the country’s territory though rains are expected by the weekend, senior weather department sources said on Wednesday.

Monsoon progress is “behind schedule," said a senior official of the India Meteorological Department, who did not wish to be named, adding “the monsoon is likely to revive in next two to three days."

He ruled out any cause for concern at this juncture, despite the delay in the monsoon progress which usually covers central and western India by mid-June.

The monsoon, after an initial lull phase earlier this month, has entered the rice, cane and oilseed growing south-western region of India.

But it has yet to enter the soybean growing areas of central India, or northern Uttar Pradesh, the country’s top cane growing state.

Last year the weather department incorrectly predicted rains for the annual southwest monsoon which runs from June to September from south to north.

“Rains occured a bit in some parts. But it does not look like monsoon rains," said Rajesh Agrawal, spokesman of the Indore-based trade body the Soybean Processors Association of India.

He said soybean sowing would start in the central India once the monsoon fully sets in by next week as forecast by the weather office.

“Farmers will start planting soybeans from June last week," he said.

For the first fortnight of the four month season, overall rains were deficient as the super cyclone Phet over Arabian sea slowed the initial progress of the monsoon which had hit the country’s southern tip on 31 May, a day ahead of normal date of arrival over the southwest Kerala coast.

Rainfall since 1 June, the start of the four-month season, was seven percent below a normal of 62.4 mm, sources in the weather office, who declined to be named, said.

D. Sivananda Pai, director of National Climate Center in Pune said he was still forecasting a normal monsoon for this season.

Heavy rains were expected over the central-western region later this week, said Pai, and ruled out any weak phase this week.

Good rains, after last year’s drought, are crucial to calm high inflation that has triggered protests, can boost the country’s output of grain and oilseeds, and give room to the government to relax curbs on export of wheat and rice.

Soaring inflation had been a key concern of an Indian government panel that was empowered to take a decision on easing state controls on fuel prices.

The panel led by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee put off a decision at its meeting last week as it wanted to watch how the monsoon, vital for farm output in India’s trillion-dollar economy, shapes up amid high inflation.

May’s inflation of 10.16%, driven by higher food and fuel prices, was the seventh straight monthly reading over 5%, the Reserve Bank of India’s perceived comfort level.