Monsoon rain said to cover half of India; eases drought worry


Annual monsoon rains have covered half of India two days ahead of the usual date, sources in the weather office said on Thursday, easing concern over southwestern regions parched by drought.

The rains are crucial for farm output and economic growth in India, where just over half of arable land is rain-fed. The farm sector makes up about 15 percent of a nearly $2-trillion economy that is Asia’s third-biggest.

“In fact, monsoon rains have advanced slightly more than half of the landmass,” said one of the officials, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Adequate monsoon rain should help the economy and hold down inflation, a critical concern for the government as it readies for a round of state polls this year and a national election by May 2014.

The monsoon arrived on schedule on the Kerala coast on June 1, and then spread inland faster than usual. The weather office will give its official weekly update on the rains later on Thursday.

Rainfall from June 1 to 12 was 23 percent above average, triggering early planting for a host of summer crops, including rice, oilseeds and cotton, in many parts of the country.

In these initial stages of the June-September season, planting is key and the crops themselves are not greatly affected by the quantity of rain. Rainfall distribution in mid-July, after the monsoon covers the entire country, is more important for their growth.

“There has been plenty of rainfall over drought areas of the southern region and even adjoining Maharashtra has received excess splash,” P. Chengal Reddy, the chief of a farmers’ body, told Reuters from Hyderabad.

Seven southern and western states, including Maharashtra, that which were hit by drought last year need plentiful and timely rain to assist a recovery and appear to have received ample downpours early.

Source : Reuters.

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