India to get ‘above normal’ monsoon rains after two years of deficient rainfall

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India to get ‘above normal’ monsoon rains after two years of deficient rainfall

Our bureau
New Delhi, Jun 3:

After two successive years of deficient monsoon (2014 and 2015), the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has reiterated its earlier April prediction by stating that southwest monsoon would be ‘above normal’ rainfall at 106% of the benchmark Long Period Average (LPA), with a model error of ± 4%.

The heartening part of the IMD’s forecast is that there is 96% probability of monsoon (June-September) being normal or excess. A normal or excess rainfall this year is expected to boost India’s kharif crops — paddy, pulses, cotton and oilseed –output besides ensuring sufficient soil moisture for the next rabi or winter crops — wheat, pulses and oilseeds. The met department also said that monsoon is expected to arrive in Kerala coast during next few days.

On the region wise distribution of monsoon rain, the second long range forecast released by L S Rathore, Director General, IMD said that North-West region will receive 108% rainfall of LPA while central India and southern peninsula is expected to get rainfall which is 113% of LPA. The North-Eastern region however is expected to get lesser rainfall of 94% of LPA which is termed as ‘below normal’ in terms of met department’s categories.

Besides, the rainfall is likely to be 107% of its LPA during July and 104% of LPA during August both with a model error of ± 9 %.

According to IMD, El Nino condition which weakens the monsoon rains is currently at neutral position and there is 50% probability of La Nina conditions would be established during later part of the monsoon season.

“With the adequate rainfall, our reservoirs whose water level at present has fallen to critical level would be filled up and we will have adequate water for next rabi season as well,” Ashok Gulati, former chairman, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) said.

The agriculture contributes about 15% of the country’s GDP and employs about 55 to 60% of the country’s population. The sector is also heavily dependent on the monsoon as only around 45% of the cultivable area is under irrigation. Thus whenever monsoon rains have been normal or above normal, it has direct impact on the foodgrains production.

Because of deficient monsoon rains in last two years, the country’s foodgrains production declined to 252 million tonne and 253 million tonne in 2014–15 and 2015–16 respectively from a record production of 265 million tonne in 2013–14.

In 2009, when the monsoon rainfall was 23% below the normal, the production of foodgrain dropped to 218 million tonne from 234 million tonne in the previous year, a decline of 6.8%.

Due to poor monsoon in 2015-16 crop year, 10 states have declared drought and the Centre has sanctioned about Rs 10,000 crore by way of relief to help the farmers.

Meanwhile, the deficit in monsoon rains in the last two years has depleted water levels in the country’s 91-odd reservoirs. Till last week, the water reserves had fallen to only 17% of their installed capacity while 31% of that capacity was filled up with water last year as against 21% of capacity for the last 10-year average reserve level. The good monsoon is expected to improve water level at this reservoirs and also boost hydel production.

“Hope the good monsoon does not take away the government’s thrust on boosting agricultural sector,” Ajay Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj noted.

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