By Elton Gomes
The India Meteorological Department (IMD), the country’s official weather forecaster, has predicted that the country will witness a “normal” monsoon in 2018. It further projected a “very less possibility” of a deficient monsoon, which is expected to start in the middle of next month.
The IMD predicted the rainfall to be at 97% of the long period average (LPA). Even though this prediction is at the lower end of the normal range, it matches the prediction by Skymet, a private weather forecaster. Earlier this month, Skymet had also predicted that India will have a normal monsoon.
— India Met. Dept. (@Indiametdept) April 16, 2018
K.J. Ramesh, director general of the IMD, told the Economic Times: “As we understand now, it is going to be a very good monsoon so far as Indian agriculture is concerned. We feel that good rainfall distribution, as India has experienced during 2016 and 2017, will continue.”
Chances of a normal rainfall are 42%, while those of a below-normal rainfall is around 30%. For the upcoming monsoon season, the IMD predicted a 12% chance of above-normal rain and 14% chance of deficient rain.
Here’s what happened
India eagerly looks forward to the monsoon as besides ensuring relief from the hot Indian summers, it helps farmers grow a decent crop. About 70% of the annual rainfall in the country is received in the months of June-September (monsoon), making it crucial for the 263 million farmers. Additionally, 60% of Indian farms lack irrigation facilities, increasing farmers dependency on the monsoon further.
A good monsoon has the ability to reduce crop failure, thereby, reviving incomes of farmers and boosting rural markets and spending. A significant portion of Indian farmers rely on the monsoon to ensure a good output to earn their living and pay debts. A bad rainfall can lead to crop failure, which then turns compels farmers to commit suicides, as reported by private weather forecasting agency Skymet.
The monsoon also adds to the natural water supply in the country and helps increase the water levels in major reservoirs.
Why you should care
Over 800 million people in India currently depend on agriculture for their livelihood, thereby, a good monsoon is integral for India’s economy to remain stable. Additionally, if the country experiences a bad monsoon, food prices get pushed up due to the lack of sufficient food produce n the country, thereby wreaking havoc in the economy.
Additionally, agricultural production accounts for 15% of the Indian GDP, making it a crucial industry in the economy. An uncertain monsoon can have a domino effect that starts from the farmer being unable to produce enough food to feed to population and goes on to increased food prices, lower production, leading to a very unstable economy.
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