Monsoon to arrive in 48 hours: weather department

The Indian weather bureau today struck a positive note on the onset of the monsoon, saying it would hit the Kerala coast by Wednesday as conditions for its onset have improved.

At the same time, officials in the India Meteorological Department have admitted that the monsoon will be far from 'normal', as the IMD projected in its late-April forecast.

There are strong chances that the dreaded El Nino will form during this year's season, disrupting the cyclonic pattern over the Arabian Sea. Its favourable counterpart, Il Nina, is less likely to occur, according to current projections.

Monsoon rains are critical to India's agriculture sector because large tracts of agricultural land are rain-fed. Some 70 per cent of India's population depends on farming for a livelihood; yet the farm sector accounts for only about 14 per cent of the country's GDP.

Also, around 70 per cent of the nation's farmland is rain-fed. A weak monsoon would not only lead farmers to desperation but also hit the country's economy.

For the average farmer, the timing of the monsoon's arrival is not as critical as its distribution. The sowing of kharif (summer) crops such as rice, oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton depend on heavy rainfall.