Revised monsoon forecast casts a shadow

The South-West monsoon rainfall not only brings relief to people from the summer heat, but is eagerly awaited by farmers. Their crop output depends on it, in a country where irrigation infrastructure is still pitiful, well into the 21st century. For them, the revised monsoon forecast is a dampener. The weather bureau ( has revised its South-West monsoon forecast.

The new forecast predicts below normal rainfall compared to the near normal prediction in April. Rainfall is expected to be at 93% of its long term average, with a model error of 4%, down from 96%, with a model error of 5%. The model error indicates the range; meaning rainfall will be between 89%-97% of the long term average. The July/August forecasts indicate July to be a weak month and August to make up for it.

The Met department has also given a region-wise break up. The region to get the highest rainfall with is Central India (93%) followed by North-East (92%), Southern Peninsula (93%) and North-West India (81%).

There is no reason to be gloomy yet. More than the quantum of rainfall, its timing and spread is more important. At present, the timing is a worry but this may be made up in the next two crucial months. It is just that the uncertainty factor has increased. The release can be read here (contains a link to a presentation on the subject made by the IMD).

How much farmers are able to grow and sell, in turn has a ripple effect on the economy. A good crop allows them to earn a decent income, repay their loans and buy goods. Their sheer numbers makes them an important part of the economy even if agriculture’s contribution to the country’s income has gone down, over the years. A bad crop year could lead to them defaulting on their loans; a fact that prompted the government to bail them out with a massive farm loan waiver last year. That blew a big hole in the government’s pocket though it probably earned it quite a few votes too. The government will be praying that the monsoon makes up in July and August, it does not have the resources to afford another waiver.

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