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IMD Monsoon Forecast Offers Good News for Indian Agriculture & Economy

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast has brought good news to the nation’s largely rain-fed agriculture after poor rains and drought last year. As per IMD, India could witness a near-normal monsoon this season.

Tooba Maher

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast has brought good news to the nation’s largely rain-fed agriculture after poor rains and drought last year. As per IMD, India could witness a near-normal monsoon this season. 

M. Rajeevan, Secretary at the Ministry of Earth Sciences said, “There is good news, the monsoon is likely to be near normal. The rainfall in the four-month season from June to September is likely to be 96% of the 50-year average of 89 cm with a model error of +/-5%." He stated it, while releasing IMD’s first long-range forecast for the monsoon this year.

The south-west monsoon, which makes its onset over the country in June, irrigates over half of India’s cropland and sustains the livelihood of over 58% of its population that is dependent on agriculture. The monsoon forecast is important, as it directly influences agricultural production and has a spiralling impact on inflation and growth. 

D.K. Joshi, Chief Economist at Crisil said “It does not seem to be bad news. However, much depends on how far the rainfall is going to be evenly distributed across regions and if the areas already facing dry conditions would see some respite. There is still some uncertainty over that." 

As per the weather department, there is 39% probability of normal rainfall, 32% probability of below normal and 17% probability of deficient rains. There are also low chances of the monsoon rainfall being above normal (10%) or in excess (2%). 

The monsoon was low in 2018 resulting in an overall deficit of 9.4%. Pushing, several states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Gujarat, Telangana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh into drought. 

The crisis further deepened after the north-east monsoon, which brings rainfall over the southern states, also fared poorly and ended with a deficit as high as 44%. 

“Our climate models suggest that the rainfall would be well-distributed. It would be good for the farmers during the upcoming kharif season," stated K.J. Ramesh, Director General of Meteorology at IMD. 

However, IMD officials did not completely negate the risk of weak El Niño conditions prevailing over equatorial Pacific Ocean. El Niño is a weather phenomenon linked to below normal rains and drought. “Weak El Niño conditions would persist in the monsoon season, but with reduced intensity. It peaked in February. Its intensity would decrease further from July onwards, which is an agriculturally crucial month. However, we could see some impact in June," added the IMD Head, assuaging concerns about the potential impact of El Niño. 

Last year, the actual rainfall was recorded at 91% of LPA, which fell in the below-normal category. 

Rajeevan said, “Our forecast was accurate for all regions, but we failed miserably in predicting the north-east region. The region recorded the lowest rainfall at 76% of LPA which has not happened in years. However, this time, it is clearly a normal monsoon. The uncertainty is on account of +/-5% model error." 

IMD will monitor the El Niño conditions and will also update its forecast in the first week of June. It will include the predictions for region-wise and month-wise rainfall. The onset of monsoon over the southern coast will be declared around 15 May. 

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