IMD mon­soon fore­cast spells good news for farm­ers, govt

At 97%, Rains Likely To Be In Nor­mal Range

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - NEWS NET­WORK

TIMES New Delhi: Bear­ing good news for the farm sec­tor, the In­dia Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal De­part­ment (IMD) on Mon­day pre­dicted a ‘nor­mal’ mon­soon this year and said there is a “very less pos­si­bil­ity” of a de­fi­cient mon­soon.

Though the IMD pegged the sea­son’s rain­fall in the lower end of the nor­mal range, at 97% of the long pe­riod av­er­age (LPA), its pre­dic­tion matches pri­vate fore­caster Skymet weather’s fore­cast, rais­ing hopes of a nor­mal mon­soon.

The pre­dic­tion for a nor­mal mon­soon will spell re­lief for the govern­ment ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elec­tion and the Cen­tre hav­ing been un­der pres­sure to re­spond to farm dis­tress that has sparked ag­i­ta­tions in several states. A poor mon­soon would cre­ate stress in the econ­omy re­cov­er­ing from de­mon­eti­sa­tion and roll­out of GST. The farm sec­tor is not only cru­cial to over­all growth, it is a key con­stituency the govern­ment has tar­geted in the cur­rent year’s Bud­get.

This is the third con­sec­u­tive year that the coun­try’s na­tional weather fore­caster has pre­dicted a ‘nor­mal’ mon­soon, al­though rains ended be­low nor­mal last year. Rain­fall be­tween 96% and 104% of LPA dur­ing the June-Septem­ber mon­soon pe­riod is con­sid­ered nor­mal. IMD’s fore­cast comes with an er­ror mar­gin of +/-5%.

“The fore­cast sug­gests max­i­mum prob­a­bil­ity (42%) for nor­mal mon­soon and low prob­a­bil­ity (14%) for defi- cient rain­fall,” said IMD di­rec­tor gen­eral K J Ramesh while an­nounc­ing the first of­fi­cial mon­soon fore­cast for the year. IMD will up­date its fore­cast in June as the mon­soon reaches main­land In­dia.

Along with the 42% prob­a­bil­ity of a nor­mal mon­soon, IMD said there was a 30% chance of be­low-nor­mal rains and a 12% pos­si­bil­ity of above-nor­mal rain­fall. What will need closer ob­ser­va­tion is the likely vari­a­tion in rain­fall with some ar­eas suf­fer­ing from a prob­lem of plenty and oth­ers go­ing drier.

The mon­soon is likely to hit the coun­try’s main­land in Ker­ala in last week of May or the first week of June, Ramesh said. The IMD will, how­ever, re­lease its fore­cast of mon­soon’s on­set in mid-May.

Though neu­tral con­di­tions are ex­pected in the Pa­cific, the one fac­tor that could go against good rains is the pos­si­bil­ity of con­di­tions in the In­dian Ocean turn­ing slightly ad­verse — a weak neg­a­tive In­dian Ocean Dipole (IOD) — dur­ing the sec­ond half of the mon­soon sea­son.

“The pos­si­bil­ity of a neg­a­tive IOD is the main rea­son why mon­soon rain­fall is fore­cast at 97%, and not higher. We would be closely watch­ing con­di­tions in the In­dian Ocean,” an IMD of­fi­cial said.

Re­act­ing on the mon­soon fore­cast, Union agri­cul­ture sec­re­tary S K Pat­tanayak told TOI, “It au­gurs well for the In­dian agri­cul­ture sec­tor. We hope the coun­try’s food­grain pro­duc­tion dur­ing the next crop year may sur­pass this year’s record pro­duc­tion. We’ll strate­gise how to gain from it dur­ing the Kharif con­fer­ence next week.”

The coun­try had seen good rain­falls in 2016 and 2017 which re­sulted in high food­grain pro­duc­tion.On the other hand, the coun­try’s grain out­put dropped in 2014 and 2015, the first two years of the Naren­dra Modi govern­ment.

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