India's 2017 monsoon rains seen at average levels: weather office

Ashley Carr
April 23, 2017

A normal monsoon in 2017, as predicted by IMD, will definitely boost the farm sector but good prices and market opportunities are equally important to ensure better income for farmers, renowned agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan said today.

Everyone's eyes were set on the first monsoon forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

"The monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 96% of the long period average (LPA) with a model error of 5% on either side", IMD director general K J Ramesh said here.

Typically less damaging than El Niño, La Niña is characterised by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and tends to occur unpredictably every two to seven years.

Last year, Skymet has predicted above normal monsoon at 105 percent and IMD at 106 percent of the LPA both of which were not met. Since 2012, IMD has been using the dynamical global climate forecasting system (CFS) model, which was developed under the Monsoon Mission. Ramesh said it will make a more detailed prediction in its second forecast in June.

According to other experts, any moderation in agriculture growth in case of normal monsoon this fiscal will be due to base effect as in 2016-17 India is likely to witness record food grain out.

A State Bank of India's report released on Tuesday said, "An analysis of monsoon forecast (1st and 2nd stage) since 2008 indicates that IMD has only once increased its 2nd stage forecast (2014), else the forecast remained same or slightly less than the 1st".

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"The forecast is on a lower band of the normal range and the situation per say is not as rosy as previous year", said Faiyaz Hudani, associate vice president for research at Kotak Commodity Services Ltd. "However, the northeast, Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu may receive less rainfall", said a senior IMD official.

"Normal monsoon will certainly help achieve the production goals".

For one, there's the looming threat of El Nino. Higher rainfall in the early part of the monsoon may support sowing. He added that the normal rain will be good for the economy and agriculture and rain will be distributed fairly across the country.

"A weak El Nino and a positive IOD is a good sign".

Now neutral conditions are prevailing over the equatorial pacific.

The IMD had a year ago predicted the rains to be above normalmore than 106 per cent of the LPAwith a model error of plus minus five per cent in its first forecast, but the monsoon turned out to around 97 per cent of the PLA as La Nina remained at neutral state. It will take time for El Nino to establish.

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