In poll year, India set for normal monsoon
Forecast bodes well for farm output, rural economy
NEW DELHI: India’s June-september monsoon, the lifeblood of the world’s third-largest economy, will be normal this year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday. The prediction will likely boost economic growth and farm output in the run-up to a general election next year.
“India will get its third consecutive normal monsoon this year at 97% of the long-period average. We see very less probability of a deficient monsoon being experienced by the country,” KJ Ramesh, the IMD’S chief said.
According to the Met’s classification, the monsoon is considered normal if the rains are between 96-104% of the 50-year average of 89 cm.
Well-distributed summer rains, which account for 70% of India’s total annual rainfall, spur rural spending on most items and also increase demand in other sectors of the economy. Rural sales account for about 48% of all motorcycles and 44% of television sets sold annually if the monsoon is normal, according to consumer sales data from the Citibank Research.
The rains are critical because nearly half of all Indians depend on a farm-based income and 60% of the country’s net-sown area does not have any form of irrigation. Millions of farmers wait for the rains to begin summer sowing of major crops such as rice, sugar, cotton and oilseeds. Half of India’s farm output comes from summer crops dependent on the rains. For good farm output, the rains have to be not just normal but also evenly spread across states. The monsoon also replenishes 81 nationally-monitored water reservoirs critical for drinking, power and irrigation.
Ahead of a general election in 2019, adequate food output will help to keep overall inflation low. As oil prices pick pace — they surged to their highest levels since 2014 last week to $66.82 a barrel — inflation continues to be the Narendra Modi government’s key economic concern.
Food prices have a 30% weightage in India’s consumer price index. “A normal monsoon has a positive impact on the overall economy through intersectoral relations between agriculture and other sectors,” said NR Bhanumurthy, an economist.