INDIA STARES AT UNCERTAINTY OVER NORMAL MONSOON
With the monsoon taking a break, independent weathermen have doubts if the four-month long season would be normal this year. The monsoon has been below normal by 5 per cent till Friday, and has impacted the sowing of kharif crops, with area under cultivation falling 0.56 per cent to date year-on-year.
With the monsoon taking a break, independent weather services have doubts if the four-month long season would be normal this year. Monsoon has been below normal by 5 per cent till Friday, and has impacted the sowing of kharif crops, with total area under cultivation falling 0.56 per cent till date year-on-year.
Only cotton and sugarcane saw a rise in acreage, according to the data released by the agriculture ministry. Overall, the sowing area is 101.38 million hectares against 101.96 million hectares a year ago.
Normal monsoon was one of the assumptions in various forecasts of economic growth this financial year. Other than this, the government expenditure was supposed to drive growth. So, if monsoon is below normal, the onus of driving gross domestic product (GDP) growth will fall on the government alone.
However, for the first quarter of the current financial year, agriculture may still drive growth as monsoon was above normal in June. Official forecast for GDP growth has been in the range of 6.75 to 7.5 per cent, but now reaching the upper end has been recognised as extremely difficult. The growth was 7.1 per cent in 2016-17.
Cultivation of oilseeds was down 8.06 per cent, that of jute by 0.66 per cent, followed by pulses (3.82 per cent), rice (0.83 per cent) and coarse cereals (0.2 per cent).
The southwest monsoon has been around 634.2 millimetres between June 1 and August 25, against the normal of 670.2 millimetres.
The rainfall has been normal in 28 states/Union Territories but deficient in six, including some of the biggest grain-growing states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Haryana.
Due to sudden stoppage of rainfall over central and western parts of the country, the southwest monsoon might be below normal this year, though there is almost 40 days left for the season to end, according to experts.
The pessimism was, however, not shared by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).
Moreover, the water level in the 91-odd reservoirs as of August 24 has been around 51 per cent of the live storage capacity, which is less than last year’s level and lower than the 10-year average storage available in these reservoirs.
Jatin Singh, chief executive officer of private weather forecasting agency Skymet, said that increasingly it seems that southwest monsoon in 2017 could be below normal at around 90-95 per cent of the long-period average (LPA). Monsoon in the range of 96 to 105 per cent of LPA is considered normal.
IMD had forecast the southwest monsoon to be 98 per cent of the LPA, with a model error of plus and minus 4 per cent.
Madan Sabnavis, chief economist CARE Ratings said, “Overall, the deficit might not be very big as of now but as we enter the last leg of the 2017 season, it is increasingly getting clearer that rains this year over all India might not be normal.”
Also, sowing of oilseeds and pulses is less than less last year’s, which might not show a big recovery from here onwards, Sabnavis observed.
The acreage is down both due to shift in area towards cotton and castor and also because of insufficient rains in some parts, he said.
However, the final yield will depend upon how the weather behaves in the next few months, he said, adding there could be some price impact in pulses due to drop in production in the next few months.