DELHI -- India is unlikely to be hit by a drought or heavy downpours that lead
to floods during this year's monsoon, D.S. Pai, head of the country's
long-range weather forecaster, said Friday.
forecast is optimistic for the country's agricultural output as there is no
major threat from adverse weather. India has recorded a bumper foodgrain
harvest for two years in a row and any fall in the marketing year from July 1
could have jeopardized its food security program.
monsoon rains are expected to be normal, the weather office has said there are
chances of an El Nino event occurring later in the June-September season. El
Ninos usually cause lower rainfall and have mostly resulted in drought-like
conditions in India.
"An El Nino generally weakens monsoon rain,
but as of now, it is neutral. Even if it builds up, it will likely be
the National Climate Centre chief said.
four-month monsoon accounts for 70% of rainfall in India, where more than 60%
of the farmland is rain-fed. Agriculture employs more than half of India's
Pai also said there has been no abnormal weather so far to indicate any
possible delay in monsoon, which is crucial to staples such as rice and
oilseeds as they are sowed when the first rains arrive in early June.
he didn't mention an onset date as weather changes even a week before the
expected arrival could result in a delay.
from El Nino, thicker snow cover in the northern hemisphere was also of concern
as it usually has an inverse relationhip with the monsoon, Mr. Pai said, adding
that above-normal temperatures in the Indian Ocean would be positive for
Secretary P.K. Basu, who is bullish on next year's foodgrain prospects, said
good rains could boost output beyond last year's record 252.56 million tons.
Kotak Securities Economist Indranil Pan said in a note that the possibility of
a weak monsoon poses upside risks to inflation from food prices.
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