India experienced its driest August since 1901, makes it one of worst months of monsoon deficiency in history | Mint
Active Stocks
Wed Feb 28 2024 11:59:02
  1. Tata Motors share price
  2. 959.20 -0.37%
  1. Tata Steel share price
  2. 141.95 -1.53%
  1. Power Grid Corporation Of India share price
  2. 285.60 -2.36%
  1. HDFC Bank share price
  2. 1,415.85 -0.33%
  1. ITC share price
  2. 408.85 -0.56%
Business News/ News / India/  India experienced its driest August since 1901, makes it one of worst months of monsoon deficiency in history
BackBack

India experienced its driest August since 1901, makes it one of worst months of monsoon deficiency in history

Although IMD predicts normal rainfall in September, it may not make up for the deficiency of 36% in August alone and 10% during 1 June-31 August. makes it one of worst months of monsoon deficiency in history

Rainfall across the country was 162.7 mm this August compared to 254.9 mm actual. Both average maximum and mean temperatures in the country were the highest since 1901. (Hindustan Times)Premium
Rainfall across the country was 162.7 mm this August compared to 254.9 mm actual. Both average maximum and mean temperatures in the country were the highest since 1901. (Hindustan Times)

New Delhi: August has been the driest and warmest month in the entire country since 1901. Monsoon precipitation in August across the central India and the south Peninsular region has also been the lowest in 122 years since 1901, making it one of the worst and deficient monsoon months in history, India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Thursday.

Rainfall across the country was 162.7 mm this August compared to 254.9 mm actual. Both average maximum and mean temperatures in the country were the highest since 1901.

There were two phases of monsoon break conditions in August—5-16 August and 27-31 August. The monsoon trough was mostly north of its normal condition making it highly unfavourable for rainfall over the plains. “As El Nino conditions have started gaining strength and because of unfavourable Madden Julian Oscillation, August rainfall was adversely affected," said IMD director general Mrutyunjay Mohapatra.

While presenting monthly rainfall and temperature forecast for September, the met department chief said, “Precipitation in September is expected to be normal ranging between 91 and 109% of long period average (LPA). Normal to above normal rainfall is most likely over many areas of northeast India, adjoining east India, foothills of the Himalayas and some areas of east-central and south peninsular India. The below-normal rainfall is most likely over most areas of the remaining parts of the country." The forecast came at a time when water reservoir levels are falling.

Although IMD predicts normal rainfall in September, it may not make up for the deficiency of 36% in August alone and 10% during 1 June-31 August. If the highest value of 91-109% is considered, the country will still require about 22% precipitation. This raises concerns over the kharif crops.

“Impact of uneven and erratic monsoons is already visible in kharif sowing. As of 25th August, overall Kharif sowing merely surpassed last year’s level. The major pressure point is going to be pulses, where sowing is still in the red. Weak production could keep food inflation elevated. We are estimating FY24 inflation to average at 5.7%," said Avni Jain, senior economist at HDFC bank.

“While monsoon situation and likely impact on inflation is a key risk, the government support measures like vegetable supply at subsidised prices, cut in LPG prices could ease off some pressure," Jain added.

Although Kharif sowing is almost over and 3.6% higher year-on-year at 105.4 million hectares, area under pulses lags significantly and cotton and oilseeds to some extent. According to agronomists, if rainfall is not adequate in September, flowering of crops may be affected.

“If rain in September surprises on the downside, it will affect prospects of crops as they require water during flowering, and there can be concern for oilseeds besides rice and sugarcane. This can put pressure on prices and hence inflation risk remains," expressed Madan Sabnavis, chief economist of Bank of Baroda.

“Prices of pulses, groundnut, cotton and jute will be firm. There will also be pressure on rice though sowing is higher than last year," according to Sabnavis.

Additionally, if production declines, “farm GDP may shrink by 0.2-0.5% from 3.5% in the worst scenario."

Meanwhile, a 40% deficit rainfall in the week ended 30 August widened the gap in water levels at 150 key reservoirs across the country dipped 23% as against the corresponding period last year and 9% lower than 10-year average in the week ended 31 August.

As of Thursday, the gap has widened from a 7% deficit at the beginning of August. Rainfall in August is deficient by 36%.

“Falling water reservoir levels are a serious concern as it is used for drinking, cattle as well as rabi sowing. If levels do not move up, which appears to be the case, there will be problems going ahead," the Bank of Baroda economist said. “At any rate July-august are normally the months when there is heaviest rain and hence the deficit in August will have far reaching impact."

“Good rain in September will be a case of little too late. It may not matter for kharif production and sowing area where lower is unlikely to revive because every crop has a season of 2-3 months before harvest. It will help mainly to restore reservoir levels," Sabnavis added.

As far as the temperature in September is concerned, “above-normal maximum temperatures are likely over most parts of the country, except over some areas in south peninsular India and some pockets of west-central India, where normal to below-normal maximum temperatures are likely. Above-normal minimum temperatures are likely over most parts of the country, except for some areas in extreme north India, where normal to below-normal minimum temperatures are likely," it said.

Southwest monsoon rainfall in 2023 is expected to be “below normal" or lower side of “normal" category officials said. 90 to 95% of LPA is considered to be in “below normal" category while less than 90% is considered “deficient." Monsoon rainfall between 96-104% is considered “normal."

“We are likely to record a below normal or lower side of normal monsoon rainfall this year, but we are not changing our forecast. We had forecast that we were likely to record monsoon rain of 96% with a +/-4% error margin. We will be within that error margin," Mohapatra said on Thursday.

Rainfall in the June-September monsoon season drives India’s $3 trillion economy, bringing nearly 75% of the country’s annual rains which are crucial for agriculture and for replenishing reservoirs and aquifers along with meeting power demand. Over half of India’s arable land is rain fed and agriculture is among the biggest employment generators.

IMD, the nodal body for weather forecasts in the country, had forecast a “normal" monsoon at 96% with an error margin of +/-4% of LPA in May. Calculated based on data during 1971-2020, the LPA for the four-month monsoon season began June-September is 87 cm.

Skymet, the private weather forecaster, had forecast a “below normal" rainfall for the ongoing monsoon season.

El Nino has a strong influence on the southwest monsoon in India. El Nino years are characterised by an unusual warming of waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific, which has a high correlation with warmer summers and weaker monsoon rains in India.

At present, El Nino is gaining strength and likely to remain strong till the end of the ongoing calendar year. However, Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which reached the positive threshold value at the end of August may curb adverse effects of El Nino to some extent, said IMD chief.

Mohapatra informed that monsoon withdrawal process from Southwest Rajasthan is seen to be delayed by a fortnight as against the usual 1 September.

Unlock a world of Benefits! From insightful newsletters to real-time stock tracking, breaking news and a personalized newsfeed – it's all here, just a click away! Login Now!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Puja Das
Puja Das is a New Delhi based policy reporter covering food, farm, fertiliser, water, and climate policies for Mint. Puja reports on farmers' distress and how the agriculture sector is impacting India's rural economy and policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at COP27. Puja holds a post-graduation degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore.
Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Check all the latest action on Budget 2024 here. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Published: 31 Aug 2023, 11:31 PM IST
Next Story footLogo
Recommended For You
Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App