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India’s monsoon seen normal this year despite El Nino

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India is likely to receive a normal amount of monsoon rains in 2023 despite the likely emergence of the El Nino weather phenomenon, the state-run weather office said on Friday (26), the fifth year of normal or above-normal summer rains.

The monsoon is the lifeblood of the country’s $3 trillion economy, Asia’s third-largest, and delivers nearly 70 per cent of the rain it needs to water farms and recharge reservoirs and aquifers. Nearly half of India’s farmland doesn’t have irrigation cover and depends on the annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

The rains, which usually lash the southern tip of Kerala state around June 1 and retreat by September, are expected to total 96 per cent of the long-term average this year, DS Pai, a senior official at the India Meteorological Department (IMD), told reporters on Friday.

The IMD defines average, or normal, rainfall as ranging between 96 per cent and 104 per cent of the 50-year average of 87 cm (35 inches) for the four-month season.

A spell of good rains could lift farm and wider economic growth and help bring down food price inflation, which jumped in recent months and prompted the central bank to raise lending rates.

Ample farm production may also allow India to lift curbs imposed on sugar, wheat and rice exports. India is the world’s second-biggest producer of wheat, rice and sugar and the biggest importer of palm oil, soyoil and sunflower oil.

However, rainfall totals for June are likely to be below average as the onset of the southwest monsoon over Kerala will probably be delayed to June 4 from the typical June 1 start, Pai said.

The El Nino is a weather phenomenon caused by a warming of the central Pacific Ocean waters off South America that typically results in hot and dry weather in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.

(Reuters)

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