New Delhi: In a bad news for the country in general and the agriculture sector in particular, Monsoon rains this year will be “ deficient”, the government announced on Tuesday.
Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan informed that the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has revised its rainfall forecast from 93 to 88 percent, i.e. from "below normal" to "deficient".
This means India will be experiencing two consecutive years of “deficient” rains as 2014 too had turned out be a drought year.
Drought is when India experiences Monsoon rains below 90 percent of the long-period average (LPA). LPA is the average annual rainfall (89 cm) recorded between 1951 and 2000.
Harsh Vardhan said the north-west region which includes Delhi NCR, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan will be affected as per the forecast.
The Southwest Monsoon has already missed its date with Kerala and is now expected to hit the southern state three days late on June 4. The IMD, in its preliminary forecast, had said that the Southwest Monsoon rains will hit the Kerala coast on May 30.
In its initial annual forecast of rainfall, the IMD had in April predicted the chances of a normal Monsoon at just 28%.
The revision of forecast deals a blow to the farm sector which has seen poor back-to-back kharif and rabi seasons.
The timely onset of the Southwest Monsoon is crucial for sowing of kharif (summer) crops such as paddy and a deficit in rainfall may hit output.
Agriculture is heavily dependent on the Monsoon as only 40 percent of the cultivable area is under irrigation.
Last year, the country had received 12 percent less rains, which hit production of grains, cotton and oilseeds. Agriculture growth stood at 0.2 per cent in 2014-15 fiscal.
According to the government's estimate, total food grains production has declined to 251.12 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) from a record production of 265.04 million tonnes in 2013-14.
A “deficient” Monsoon will also hurt the already sluggish Indian economy further and force the government to revise its GDP growth forecast downwards.
One reason behind a poor Monsoon in 2015 is the onset of El Nino, a weather pattern that badly affects the Southwest Monsoon.
(With Agency inputs)