IMD predicts low rainfall this year, experts say no need to panic

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Last Updated: Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 23:32

Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava

Delhi: After four years of normal and above normal monsoon, the country is expected to witness below normal Monsoon this year with rainfall projected to be 95 percent, the Met department has predicted reports said on Thursday.

The development is likely to disappoint the farming community and affect the agriculture sector. The Met department officials said the monsoon is expected to be below normal because of the El-Nino effect, which is generally associated with the warming of ocean water.

"The monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 95 per cent of the Long Period average with an error of plus or minus 5 percent," the Meterological Department said in a statement here.

The rainfall between 90-96 percent is catergorised as below normal and rainfall between 96-104 per cent is termed as normal rainfall. The forecast for 2014 comes after the country witnessed four straight years of normal monsoon and bumper harvest.

Large parts of the country which includes western, southern and northern India will receive below normal rainfall while the eastern parts (eastern UP, Bihar, Odisha, parts of Andhra Pradesh and almost the whole of Northeast India) will receive normal rainfall, according to South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SACOF). It is a regional weather body comprising World Meterological Organisation and six South Asian countries.

Last year, the Met department had forecast 98 per cent rainfall but it exceeded and the country received over 106 per cent rainfall.

Monsoon is crucial for agriculture, particularly the kharif crops such as rice, soyabean, cotton and maize because almost 60 per cent of the farm land in the country is rainfed.

"Latest forecast from a majority of the models also indicate warming trend in the sea surface temperature over the equatorial Pacific reaching to El-Nino level during the South-west monsoon with a probability of around 60 per cent," the IMD said.

With the Model Code of Conduct in place, the MET department did not hold the customary press conference, but instead posted the monsoon-related information on its website.

No need to panic, say experts

With IMD forecasting below normal monsoon this year because of a possible El Nino factor, agriculture experts today advised the government not to press the panic button yet.

"We need to be on alert and be prepared but not get panic because the country had escaped El Nino without any scratch way back in 1997," former chief of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices Ashok Gulati said.

"The monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 95 per cent of the Long Period average with an error of plus or minus 5 percent," Indian Meteorological Department said in a statement.

Officials in the weather department said the monsoon is expected to be below normal because of the El-Nino effect. Gulati, who is now chair-professor at think-tank ICRIER, said below normal rain does not mean there will be drought. "We have to see how would be the distribution of rain across the country."

El Nino refers to the warmer-than-average sea surface temperature in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. This condition occurs every 4-12 years and had last impacted India`s monsoon in 2009, leading to the worst drought in almost four decades.

Crisil Chief Economist D K Joshi said: "No doubt, the IMD forecast is not encouraging, but I won`t press the panic button now as there is higher probability of normal monsoon."

"Below normal monsoon is not a drought year. What matter is how well rainfall is distributed across the country. We need to be concerned and be prepared so that we are not taken by surprise," he added.

Gulati said as per the Skymet forecast, rainfall in the country`s north west and western regions would be hit badly if El Nino occurs.

Harish Galipelli, Head of Commodities and Currencies with JRG Wealth Management said if the rainfall spread is scattered then it will have impact on agriculture yields and production, thereby prices.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology and private forecaster Skymet have also predicted a likelihood of El Nino factor hitting monsoon in India.

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First Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 18:19

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