Early signs indicate normal monsoon this year

India, hit by one of its worst droughts ever last year, will likely receive normal monsoon rains this year, early signs show, agency reports quoted agriculture secretary P K Basu as saying.

In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Basu said signs are that India is poised for a bumper foodgrain crop.

The June-September monsoon season is important for summer season crops comprising mainly rice and sugarcane.

Nearly 60 per cent of India's agriculture is and over 50 per cent of the country's farmlands are rain-fed.

The worst ever drought last year resulted in a big shortfall in the country's farm output and a subsequent dip in exports combined with a big spurt in domestic prices.

While the government is 99 per cent hopeful of a normal monsoon, Basu said a clearer picture would emerge by the end of the month.

While India's foodgrain production this year is expected to fall to 216.85 million tonnes, from a record 234.47 million tons last year, production of pulses is expected to see a big rise with large areas coming under the crop.

According to the government's latest projections the wheat crop would be 80.28 million tonnes while the agriculture minister had estimated it at 82 million tonnes.