Monsoon hits Kerala five days late; farmers not too worried

The summer monsoon has finally arrived in Kerala some five days behind schedule, weather bureau officials announced today.

It is of course too early to predict whether this slight delay in the onset will lead to scanty rainfall this year. Farmers will be happy enough as they can begin sowing rice, pulses and cotton which has already started in many growing areas of northwest and southern India, taking advantage of pre-monsoon showers.

The formation of a possible El Nino weather phenomenon, which can cause drought in South Asia, is only expected to have an impact later in the four-month rainy season.

"We don't foresee any El Nino impact in the first month of the monsoon season," said B P Yadav, head of the National Weather Forecasting Centre at the India Meteorological Department in New Delhi.

A decision on declaring the onset of the monsoon takes into account rainfall measured at weather stations in Kerala and westerly wind speeds.

Rainfall was around 40 per cent below average across India in the first week of the season. Progress northwards of the annual rains is expected to be slow and they are unlikely to cover half the nation by the first half of June.

Farmers have heeded the advice issued by the newly-elected government to sow crops early this year to take advantage of pre-monsoon showers. They have also been advised to use short duration seeds of cotton, pulses, corn and soybeans.