New Delhi: The monsoon, which waters more than half of India’s farmland, may be delayed this year, potentially affecting planting of crops such as rice, corn, soybeans and cotton.
The showers, crucial for growth in Asia’s third-largest economy, may reach the country’s southern coast in Kerala on June 5, the India Meteorological Department said on Friday. That compares with the normal onset date of June 1 and private forecaster Skymet Weather Services Pvt.’s predication of May 28. The meteorological department’s forecast has a margin of error of four days.
The June-September rainy season is critical to Indian agriculture as it not only waters some fields directly, but also fills reservoirs that help irrigate winter-sown crops. It shapes the livelihood of millions and influences food prices.
Farmers generally wait for the monsoon to arrive before planting crops such as rice, corn, pulses, cotton and sugarcane. Any deficit in showers during the early part of the season could delay sowing and hit yields, even if rains gather pace later.
The weather office in April predicted that this year’s monsoon will be 100% of the long-term average of 88 centimeters. Last year’s monsoon rainfall was 10% more than normal, the highest since 1994.
About 60% to 90% of total annual rainfall occurs during the four-month rainy period over different states, except the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which gets only about 35% of its annual rainfall during the monsoon. –Bloomberg
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