India’s annual monsoon, which waters more than half of the country’s fields, is seen hitting the mainland earlier this year, helping sowing of key crops like rice, corn and soybeans.
The southwest monsoon is likely to arrive in the southern state of Kerala on May 27, according to the India Meteorological Department. The June-September rainy season typically starts on June 1. The forecast has a margin of error of four days.
Timely monsoon rains are critical for India’s farm output and economic growth at a time when the country is battling soaring food prices. The war in Ukraine has further pushed up world food costs to a record. India’s farm sector is the main source of livelihood for about 60% of its population and accounts for 18% of the economy.
The monsoon is likely to be normal for a fourth year. The meteorological department forecast in April that annual rainfall during the four-month season would be 99% of the long-term average of 87 centimeters.
Last year’s monsoon rains were 99% of the long-term average, according to the weather department. It was 9% higher than normal in 2020 and 10% more than the average in 2019. Rains helped to boost India’s food grain production to a record in 2021-22.
Showers during the rainy season not only water fields directly, but fill reservoirs that help irrigate winter-sown crops. A good monsoon boosts crop output, while poor rains lead to drinking water shortages, lower harvests and higher imports of some commodities. India is the second-biggest grower of wheat, rice, sugar and cotton, and the largest buyer of palm, soybean and sunflower oils.