Following a prolonged dry spell that broke with heavy rains lashing several parts of the country since mid-July, the performance of the southwest monsoon in the remaining two months of the season is expected to be normal, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said today.
This augurs well for the progress of kharif sowing and output, but some experts said the conditions should be monitored till mid-August before arriving at a final picture because any shortfall in acreage beyond that period will be difficult to compensate.
The met department, meanwhile, said in its mid-season forecast that rainfall in August and September is expected to be normal at 95-105 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA) with a tendency to be in the positive side of the normal.
The LPA of the August to September period rainfall over the country as a whole is 428.3 mm
For the month of August alone, the IMD said that rainfall will also be normal in the entire country at 94-106 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA).
The LPA of the August rainfall over the country as a whole is 258.1 mm for the period 1961-2010.
A normal monsoon in August augurs well for the coming kharif harvest as the break in rains from mid-June which lead to drop in acreage, has clouded prospects of a bumper final harvest.
July and August are the most critical months of the southwest monsoon season as the country receives maximum rain in these two months.
However, not all are convinced.
“I think we should wait and watch till the middle of August before arriving at final conclusion, because normal monsoon is one thing but whether it will bridge the gap in acreage as compared to last year particularly in case of oilseeds and pulses remains to be seen because there is something called ideal sowing time,” Madan Sabnavis, chief economist Care Ratings told Business Standard.
Elaborating further, Sabnavis said that like in the case of rice, the ideal sowing time is till end July, but so far sowing is less than last year.
However, he added that there is not much problem in the case of rice even if there is a drop in output due to less area because stocks in the central pool are more than enough.
“But we don’t have that luxury in case of oilseeds and pulses where any drop in acreage will have a big bearing on their already elevated prices,” Sabnavis said.
Meanwhile, the IMD said that region-wise monsoon in August is expected to be below normal to normal rainfall is likely over many areas of central India and some areas over northwest India.
But, it will be normal to above normal rainfall is most likely over most parts of peninsular India and northeast India.
The IMD said that latest global model forecasts indicate that the prevailing neutral El Nino conditions are likely to continue over the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
However, sea surface temperatures over central and east equatorial Pacific Ocean are showing a cooling tendency and there is an increased possibility of re-emergence of the La Nina condition in the end of the monsoon season or thereafter.
The prevailing negative IOD conditions over the Indian Ocean are likely to continue during the remaining part of the monsoon season, the Met said.
“As changes in the sea surface temperature (SST) conditions over the Pacific and the Indian Oceans are known to influence the Indian monsoon, IMD is carefully monitoring the evolution of sea surface conditions over these Ocean basins,” the IMD said.
The southwest monsoon, despite a vigorous revival in the first week of July that saw floods, cloudburst and landslides in several parts of the country, ended the month with a seven per cent deficit, the met said on Sunday.
The rainfall in July was minus seven per cent which comes to around 93 per cent of the Long Period Average, IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra told news agency PTI.
Rainfall in the range of 96-104 is normal whereas precipitation in the range of 90-96 is classified as below normal.
July recorded extremely heavy rainfall over coastal and central Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka. Several towns and cities in Maharashtra were deluged to very heavy rainfall which resulted in catastrophic events like landslides claiming scores of lives and damaging property.
The north Indian regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh also saw cloudburst events that claimed several lives.
The National Capital too had very good rainfall. But overall, rainfall recorded for the month was seven per cent less.
The IMD had predicted normal rainfall in July.
“We had predicted normal rainfall for July which was somewhere around 96 per cent of the LPA. July brings maximum rain over the country, but there was no rainfall activity over north India until July 8 which could have been the reason behind the deficit,” Mohapatra said.
The Southwest Monsoon arrived over Kerala on June 3, two days after its normal schedule. But it very rapidly covered the east, west, south and parts of north India by June 19.
But after that it entered into a phase that witnessed a spell of no rainfall activity.
It started reviving from July 8.
June received 10 per cent more rainfall than normal.
Overall, the country has received one per cent less rainfall than normal from June 1 to July 31.
Due to the break in rains and thereafter its subsequent revival, kharif crops have been sown in around 84.81 million hectares till July 30, which is 4.70 per cent less than the same period last year, according to the latest sowing report.
Till last week, the difference between the area covered this year and the last was 8.9 per cent and before that it was 11.6 per cent.
The area under pulses and oilseeds, the two major kharif crops, improved over last week, but is still less than the 2020 level.