Monsoon on track, says weatherman

It may be too early for the government to heave a sigh of relief, but the meteorological department asserts that the monsoon has delivered normal rainfall in the past week.

This will boost prospects of higher farm output and lower inflation, and encourage the union government to further relax curbs on rice exports.

Rainfall in the seven days to 9 June recovered to normal after an initial hiccup when cyclone Phet hindered the advance of the monsoon, which irrigates 60 per cent of farms in the world's leading consumer and producer of edible oils, sugar, wheat, rice and cotton, the India Meteorological Department office said.

Rainfall since 1 June, the start of the four-month season, was 6 per cent below normal because of the cyclone in the first few days of the month, but the weather office was upbeat.

"We are happy with the monsoon progress. A decline in seasonal rainfall at this stage does not mean anything," IMD spokesman B P Yadav said.
Farm scientists say the timely onset of the monsoon on 31 May and normal rainfall in the past week augurs well for farm output, which dipped sharply in 2009 as rains were the weakest since 1972.

"Production prospects for summer crops have brightened with the monsoon advance," H S Gupta, director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, told Reuters.

To boost summer-sown planting, the government on Thursday raised the price at which official agencies buy rice from farmers. "It's a good incentive for farmers to grow more rice this summer," Gupta said.