India likely to get ‘normal’ monsoon this year
New Delhi, Apr 18:
In major boost to farm sector, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) today predicted ‘normal’ rainfall for the monsoon this year at 96% of the benchmark Long Period Average (LPA), with a model error of ± 5%.
According to IMD Director General K J Ramesh, there is a relatively moderate possibility of El Nino conditions, which adversely impacts progress of monsoon rains, developing during later part of the monsoon months (June-September) and neutral conditions of Indian Ocean Dipole would likely to result in ‘good distribution of rainfall across the country,”.
However a IMD statement said that ‘there is no one to one relationship between El Nino and Indian monsoon’. It stated that 34% of El Nino years, monsoon season rainfall was ‘normal’ or ‘above normal’.
Experts say that a normal monsoon is expected to give boost to agricultural production as majority of farm land are rainfed and boosts water reservoirs levels leading to improvement in the supplies of drinking water and higher hydel power output.
Last year, the IMD had made an initial forecast of ‘above normal’ rainfall of 106% of LPA, but the actual cumulative rainfall was 97 of the LPA, which falls in ‘normal’ category. Because of normal rainfall last year, the country’s foodgrains production in 2016-17 crop year (July-June) is likely to reach a record 272 million tonne (MT), which is a 8% increase from the previous year.
Due to two consecutive years of deficient monsoons (2014 & 2015), the foodgrains production went down to 252 MT in 2014-15 and 2015-16 crop years from 265 MT reported in 2013-14.
According to IMD, the monsoon is categorised as ‘normal’ if cumulative rainfall during June-September period is in the range of 96-104% of LPA. Other categories are — deficient (below 90% of LPA), below normal (90-96% of LPA), above normal (104-110% of LPA) and excess (more than 110% of LPA). LPA is calculated on the basis of the average annual rainfall (89 cm) recorded between 1951 and 2000
IMD will issue the second stage forecast in early June. Along with the second forecast, separate forecasts for the monthly (July and August) rainfall over the country as a whole and seasonal (June-September) rainfall over the four geographical regions of India will also be issued.
The monsoon rains are crucial for kharif crops like paddy, pulses and oilseeds. Besides around 55% of the country’s farmland are rainfed. The monsoon rains also helps boosting the soil moisture for the rabi or winter crop.