India Set For A Third Normal Monsoon: IMD Forecast
A man sails his boat as dark clouds hover in the sky, in Kochi, on Wednesday, 3 June 2020. The Southwest Monsoon has made an onset over Kerala. (Photo: PTI)

India Set For A Third Normal Monsoon: IMD Forecast

The Indian Meteorological Department has forecast a third straight year of normal monsoon, bringing some relief to the economy as it grapples with a second wave of the pandemic.

India is expected to receive a normal south west monsoon seasonal rainfall in 2021, the meteorological department said in its first forecast for the year on Friday. “We are expecting rainfall over the country as whole to be normal (between 96 to 104% long-period average),” Madhavan Nair Rajeevan, secretary at the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said in a press conference.

Quantitatively, the monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 98% of the long-period average with a model error of +/-5%, he said.

This is very good news for the country and will help India have a good agricultural season, said Rajeevan, adding that the country saw above normal rainfall the last two years as well.

The forecast suggests either normal or above normal rain for most parts of the country. “Except for eastern and north-eastern parts, some parts of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Meghalaya, etc., the remaining parts of the country are expected to have a normal or above normal rainfall,” Rajeevan said.

An updated forecast will be issued by the end of May.

Private Forecasts In Line With IMD

Private forecasters too predict a normal monsoon. Updated forecasts released by private weather forecaster Skymet earlier this week suggested that the Southwest monsoon may be 103% of long-period average. A margin of error of 5% remains around the forecasts, Skymet said.

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.

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.

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

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