India's monsoon rains seen at average levels in 2017
Monsoon rains deliver about 70 per cent of India's annual rainfall, critical for growing crops such as rice, sugar cane, corn, cotton, and soybeans because nearly half of the country's farmland lacks irrigation. Photograph: (Reuters)
India's crucial monsoon rains are expected to be average in 2017, a senior official at the weather office said on Tuesday, easing concerns over farm and economic growth in the world's leading producer of an array of agricultural goods.
The crop-nourishing monsoon is the lifeblood for India's farm-dependent $2 trillion economy. Nearly two-thirds of India's 1.3 billion people depend on agriculture for a living.
Monsoon rains in 2017 would be at 96 per cent of the long-term average, KJ Ramesh, director general of the state-run India Meteorological Department, told a news conference.
India's weather office defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96 per cent and 104 per cent of a 50-year average of 89 cm for the entire four-month season beginning June.
Monsoon rains deliver about 70 per cent of India's annual rainfall, critical for growing crops such as rice, sugar cane, corn, cotton and soybeans because nearly half of the country's farmland lacks irrigation.
"We expect normal climatological distribution of rains and we also expect the trend of higher agricultural production and economic growth to continue," Ramesh said.
Monsoon rains will arrive on the southern tip of Kerala state by around June 1 and retreat from the western state of Rajasthan by September, the department said.