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IMD forecast showers relief on Govt, farmers
India is expected to witness a normal monsoon which could bring in a major relief to the Government and millions of farmers.
The Meteorological Department on Monday predicted normal southwest monsoon between June and September this year. The south-west monsoon is likely to be 97 per cent of the long period average (LPA), implying normal summer rain, according to the IMD classification.
Private weather forecaster Skymet too has predicted normal monsoon this year. The MeT department will release its next official forecast in June.
“India will experience third successful year of normal monsoon. Fairly certain India will not experience a deficit in monsoon,” said KJ Ramesh, Director General of Meteorology.
The Met Department said data regarding onset of monsoon will be given by May 15 and the next update on monsoon will be in June.
According to the IMD, there is 42 per cent possibility of normal rainfall and 12 per cent possibility of above normal rainfall. Monsoon will hit the country’s mainland in Kerala in last week of May or in the first week of June. This is the third consecutive year when the IMD predicted normal monsoon for the country.
“The prevailing conditions were favourable for a normal monsoon in the June-September monsoon season. A detailed forecast on regional distribution will be made in early June, by when more information on El Nino and the Indian Ocean Dipole, also known as the Indian Niño, is available. At present, the moderate La Nina conditions developed in the equatorial pacific during last year started weakening in the early part of this year and current have tuned to weak La Nina conditions.
“A warmer than usual sea-surface temperature, referred to as El Nino condition, is associated with a suppressed monsoon in India, while La Nina is known to help the rainfall,” he said.
According to the Met Department’s classification, monsoon is considered normal if the rain is between 96-104 per cent of the 50-year average rainfall of 89 cms.
The monsoon is taken to be below normal if rains are between 90 - 96 per cent. If less than 90, it is considered deficient. In the normal monsoon, the country receives 890 mm or 89 cm rainfall for the entire four-month season beginning June.
The south-west monsoon, which usually arrives in the Indian mainland by early June, is critical, not just because it will bring relief from sweltering heat conditions, but also because its impact runs through the broader economy. Nearly 60 per cent of the country’s farms lack irrigation facilities, leaving millions of farmers dependent on the rains.
The monsoon is critical to replenish 81 reservoirs necessary for power generation, irrigation and drinking. About half of India’s farm output comes from kharif crops such as rice, sugar, cotton, coarse cereals. Normal monsoon is also critical for keeping the growth engine chugging, with India’s GDP projected to grow at about 7.5 per cent.
This year’s forecast comes amid reports of growing farm distress across the country. For good farm output, the rains need to be not just plentiful overall, but evenly spread. Farmers have demanded a complete loan waiver, and implementation of recommendations made by the Swaminathan Committee report that has suggested that farmers should be paid one and a half times the cost of production. A massive protest in Maharashtra last month, where tens of thousands of farmers walked nearly 160 kms to reach Mumbai, has become emblematic of growing angst among the farming community in India.
The pre monsoon rainfall in the country is also expected to be higher in March, April and May this year. Presently, the deficiency of pre monsoon rain is 33 per cent, which is expected to be covered up in the next few days as the Met department has predicted more rain in the coming weeks in northern states while southern and Central States have received plentiful monsoon rain till date.
The 2017 south-west monsoon season saw below-normal rainfall at 95 per cent of the LPA, against the IMD forecast of normal rainfall at 98 per cent of the LPA with a model error of plus and minus 4 per cent. Global weather bureaus have indicated that favourable conditions prevail currently with “near-neutral” to “neutral” ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. ENSO is a weather glitch where above normal sea surface temperatures can lead to scanty summer rains in India.
“Abundant rains can push up rural spending on several items such as televisions, cars and gold. The fast-moving-consumer goods (toothpastes, shampoos and instant noodles among others) and fertiliser sectors would benefit the most from normal monsoon. Likewise, about 40 per cent of India’s cement demand comes from rural housing. Adequate monsoon, therefore, is critical for steady growth of cement companies,” said officials of Met department.
Below normal monsoon, on the other hand, can negatively impact agricultural and related sectors like fertilisers, agro products, farming equipment (tractors).
In 2015, the monsoon was deficient by 14 per cent, leading to a crippling drought in 302 of India’s 640 districts. In the previous year, the rains were short by 12 per cent.
In 2009, when India witnessed its worst drought in three decades, farm output crawled 0.2 per cent, battered by 22 per cent deficient monsoon rains.
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