A farmer stands in a field of rice on farmland near Hisar, Haryana, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

India's Monsoon Falls Short of Forecasts for a Second Year

(Bloomberg) -- India’s monsoon, which accounts for more than 70 percent of annual precipitation, missed a forecast for normal rainfall for a second year.

Showers totaled 804 millimeters -- or about 91 percent of the 50-year average -- in the June to September period, data from the India Meteorological Department showed. The bureau had maintained a forecast of 97 percent in August despite dry conditions in the first half of the season. A monsoon is normal when rainfall is between 96 and 104 percent of the long-term average.

India's Monsoon Falls Short of Forecasts for a Second Year

The annual four-month rainy season is critical to the country’s agriculture sector as it affects summer and winter crop sowing and waters more than half of all farmland. Rainfall was slightly below normal last year. This year’s monsoon brought normal or excess showers to 69 percent of the country, with the rest receiving insufficient rainfall.

“Even if total rainfall is lower than normal, the distribution has been more or less satisfactory,” Veeresh Hiremath, head of research at Hyderabad-based Karvy Comtrade Ltd., said before the release of the data. “Water levels in reservoirs are better than last year and that’s a boon for the winter crops.”

India’s 91 main reservoirs held 122.5 billion cubic meters of water as of Thursday, compared with 105 billion cubic meters a year earlier, according to the Central Water Commission.

Regional Distribution

Showers in the southern state of Kerala were 23 percent more than normal -- the highest surplus among regions -- while the eastern state of Odisha got 12 percent more than average rainfall. Gujarat received 24 percent less than normal rain, while cumulative precipitation in Arunachal Pradesh was 32 percent below average.

Production of food grains, which are sown during the monsoon season, is expected to rise 0.6 percent in 2018-19 to 114.6 million metric tons, the government forecasts. Rice output will increase 1.8 percent to 99.2 million tons.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.