Friday showers set stage for relief from dry days
The weather office has forecast increased rainfall in southern, western and eastern India as well as Assam.
India received 5.2 mm of rainfall on Friday, which is still lower than the normal of 6.2 mm, but a significant improvement over the 40-45% shortfall on most days since the start of this year’s monsoon season on June 1.
In central India, where farmers waited anxiously for rainfall to prepare their fields for planting oilseeds, cotton and other crops, Friday’s rainfall was 16% below average, a vast improvement after being cumulatively 54% below normal for the first 20 days of the month.
Monsoon rainfall was 10% above average in southern India, after falling 38% below normal cumulatively since the start of the season.
This is expected to increase crop planting, which is 12.5% lower than last year as on Friday, government data showed.
The weather office has forecast increased rainfall in southern, western and eastern India as well as Assam and neighbouring north-eastern states.
The Met department said the monsoon has advanced into more parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra and every district of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu as well as most parts of Telangana and West Bengal.
Planting of Paddy, Pulses Down
Monsoon has also reached south Chhattisgarh and Odisha, most parts of West Bengal and some parts of Jharkhand and Bihar.
It said conditions were becoming favourable for the monsoon to cover more districts in these states and enter eastern Uttar Pradesh in the next few days.
The slow start of the monsoon has reduced planting of paddy, coarse cereals and pulses. While paddy has been sown only over 6.3 lakh hectare as against 9.24 lakh hectare last year, area under pulses is down by 1.68 lakh hectare.
“Monsoon was stuck for a week in Kerala and coastal Karnataka. Now that it has started advancing into Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and fertile land of central and eastern states, area is set to increase by next week,” said a senior official at the agriculture ministry.
The Met department forecast good rainfall in many states in the next 15 days. This is likely to accelerate planting and fill up India’s 91 major reservoirs which have less water than last year. The water level is also lower than the average of the past decade.
The spurt in rains in last couple of days has reduced the rainfall deficiency from 45% a few days ago to 42%.
Analysts said rainfall in July and August would be critical for agriculture.
“The quantum of rains in July and August will decide the farm fate. Sluggish monsoon in June can be compensated by higher precipitation in July and August when sowing activities are at peak,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, Care Ratings Limited.
The monsoon is crucial for availability of drinking water and over half of India’s farmland, which depends entirely on rainfall. Good rains boost the rural economy and increase the sale of vehicles and consumer goods.
“The severe cyclone Vayu drew wind from the monsoon. But now that Vayu has reduced to a mere depression and moist winds from Arabian sea are bringing favourable conditions for monsoon to move northwards, rains are round the corner,” said a senior Met department official.