This may qualify as a near normal monsoon as per the meteorological department’s guidelines, but is lower compared to last year’s forecast of 99%. The Met has been using a new model since 2007, and last year the actual rainfall fell just 1% short of the forecast. Lesser rainfall usually raises a question mark on agricultural output. The economic impact of a poor crop has lessened as industry and services account for a larger share of GDP. But in a slowdown, a good agricultural output provides a buffer. Moreover, Indian industry is looking to the rural region to help it combat the slowdown, and it would not want disposable incomes in that region to get affected. That said, it is too early to write off agricultural growth in FY’10. For starters, this is a first forecast and will be updated in June and then in the middle of the season. Also, for crops, what matters is not only the quantity but also the quality of rainfall. This is measured by the geographical spread (has it rained in areas which need rainfall?) and time (has it rained during the period when it is most needed?). The IMD’s first long range forecast is something to be concerned about, but not gloomy. Here is the press release.