The meteorological department expects annual monsoon rains to be close to 100 per cent or slightly under of the long-term average this year. The department is expected to announce its first forecast for 2007 this week.
Rainfall in the 2007 season would improve if the La Nina wet weather pattern develops within two to three months. The La Nina event is characterised by cool surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which result in storm surges and strong winds.
In 2006, rainfall for the season was about 99.6 per cent of the long-term average, above the 92-per cent forecast.
Though overall 2006 was a good year, rainfall in some states, especially Haryana, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, was below what was needed, while the Western parts of the country, including Maharashtra, witnessed heavy floods.
Indian agriculture, which sustains close to 70-per cent of the populatuion, is essentially rain dependent and a good monsoon raises farm output increasing incomes in rural households and spurs spending on consumer goods from toothpastes to tractors and motorcycles.