Positive signal for economy as IMD predicts normal monsoon

El Nino a phenomenon associated with warming of Pacific waters is being attributed as the key reason behind a weak monsoon

"The forecast suggests that the monsoon rainfall during the 2017 monsoon season averaged over the country as a whole is likely to be 96 per cent, with a moderate error estimated at plus-minus five per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA)", IMD Director General K.J. Ramesh said at press conference here. He added that the normal rain will be good for the economy and agriculture and rain will be distributed fairly across the country. Almost two-thirds of India's 1.3 billion people depend on agriculture for a living.

A 96 per cent rainfall means it is on the border line of normal and below normal precipitation.

The IMD had past year predicted the rains to be above normalmore than 106 per cent of the LPAwith a model error of plus minus five per cent in its first forecast, but the monsoon turned out to around 97 per cent of the PLA as La Nina remained at neutral state.

The normal monsoon previous year aided a rebound in agriculture growth to 4.2% (2016-17), after a dismal 1.2% increase and a 0.2% contraction seen in 2015-16 and 2014-15, respectively. IMD makes its forecast on the basis of two sets of mathematical models. The country last year recorded normal rainfall after two consecutive years of drought.

Although it is early to rejoice as a clearer picture would only emerge by the end of June, expectation of another bumper crop is already in the air. The actual rainfall, however, was only 97 per cent of LPA.

Good monsoon rains are vital for Indian crops and a particularly dry season can reduce farm output, raising food prices which can be crippling for the tens of millions of India's poor. Thus, both Skymet and IMD are on equal footing in 2017 contrary to 2016 when both were at variance.

It said even in case of deficit rainfalls there are instances where agri-GDP has in fact expanded and smartly grew in slightly more than normal rainfall in 2010 and 2011.

The current year's forecast is majorly important for the agriculture sector with initial reports pointing fingers towards the El Nino, which may happen during the later part of the year.

El Nino is expected to occur in August-September, but it is unlikely to have any major impact on the monsoon, and the weatherman expects a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which has a strong influence on rainfall in the country.

"With a 38 per cent probability of rainfall in the normal category, we believe rainfall is most likely to be higher than 96 per cent of LPA".

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