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Monsoon to be 'near normal' this year

Monsoon to be near normal this year

New Delhi: It may be a good news for the people in general and the incumbent Modi government as the Monsoon rains are likely to be average this year. As per the predictions of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the monsoon rainfall is expected to be 96 per cent of the long-term average.

The prediction of average rainfall would support agricultural production and economic growth in the country, where half of the farmland lacks irrigation.

Addressing a Press conference, Ministry of Earth Sciences secretary M Rajeevan Nair said that India is going to have a near-normal monsoon in 2019 as the south-west monsoon is likely to be near-normal.

He further said that over a long period average (LPA), they expect 96 per cent rainfall of 89 cm. "LPA is the average of rainfall between 1951 and 2000, which is 89 cm. Anything between 90-95 per cent of LPA falls under the 'below normal' category," he said.

The IMD defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96 per cent and 104 per cent of a 50-year average of 89 centimetres for the entire four-month season beginning June.

"Overall, the country is expected to have a well-distributed rainfall scenario during the 2019 monsoon season, which will be beneficial to farmers in the country during the ensuing Kharif (summer-planting) season," the IMD said in its forecast. The weather office will update its forecast in the first week of June.

However, on average, the IMD has forecast accurately only once every five years over the past two decades, even after taking into account an error band of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

A private weather forecasting agency in the country has predicted that monsoon rainfall would be below normal this year.

Monsoon rains, the key source of water for irrigation for India's farm-dependent dollar 2.6 trillion economies, arrive on the southern tip of Kerala state around June 1 and retreat from the desert state of Rajasthan by September.

After a wet spell, sowing of summer-sown crops gets off to a strong start, boosting crop yields an output which in turn raises rural incomes and usually lifts consumer spending in the country.

Stronger agricultural production would help support India's economy. It is still the world's fastest-growing major economy, but annual growth slowed to 6.6 per cent in the December quarter, from 7.0 per cent in the previous period and the slowest in five quarters.

If plentiful monsoon rains lift agricultural production this year, that could keep food prices under control. Subdued overall inflation could also add to pressure on the Reserve Bank of India to cut interest rates.

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