Hat-Trick! India Set For A Third Normal Monsoon
Two school children wearing bright raincoats cross a rain-swept intersection near a railway station in Mumbai. (Photographer: Santosh Verma/Bloomberg News)

Hat-Trick! India Set For A Third Normal Monsoon

As the mercury soars towards summer highs, weather forecasters are offering relief in the form of predictions of a normal monsoon.

Updated forecasts released by private weather forecaster Skymet on Tuesday suggest that the Southwest monsoon may be 103% of long-period average. A margin of error of 5% remains around the forecasts, Skymet said. The Indian Meteorological Department is due to release the official forecast later this month.

While trends in distribution of rainfall across the country tend to vary over the season, Skymet is predicting normal rains for the eastern and central parts of India. The plains of north India and northeast India could be at some risk, the presentation said.

Should India see strong rains this year, it would be the third consecutive normal monsoon for the country, which remains dependent on seasonal rains for agricultural output.

Also read: Farm Credit Growth Hit A Four-Year High In FY21

This will only be the second time in the last two decades when the country will get three consecutive years of good monsoons, said DK Joshi, chief economist at rating agency Crisil. “This is the first piece of good news as the past year was badly hit by the pandemic, and this year too we have a second wave of infections. Amid all this, the good monsoons will help provide nutrition and also support rural gross domestic product,” he said.

Joshi, however, cautioned that it will be important to watch if the monsoon is evenly spread geographically and spatially during the year, which would be important for agriculture output.

“The states of Maharashtra , Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand with relatively lower irrigation cover will also be key determinants on how monsoon would help agriculture growth in the country,” Joshi said.

In 2020-21, based on the government’s second advance estimates, gross value added for the agriculture sector will grow 3% compared to a 6.5% contraction in GVA across the economy. This growth comes atop 4.5% GVA increase in agriculture in 2019-20.

An evenly spread monsoon between June-September and across the country will be important, said Devendra Kumar Pant, chief economist at India Ratings and Research.

“Considering agriculture was one of the key drivers for GDP growth in FY21, if the rainfall is good this year, this will provide support to demand. This will not just be positive from the farmers' and rural income prospect, but will also propel demand in the economy and support growth in the allied sectors such as tractors, steel, food-processing, pesticides, fertilisers and irrigation companies,” Pant said.

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