India’s southwest monsoon, which waters more than half of the country’s farmland and is crucial for economic growth, is expected to be ’near-normal’ this year as the risk of an El Nino weather pattern looms.
Annual rainfall during the June-September rainy season is likely to be 96 percent of a long-term average, the India Meteorological Department said on Monday. The forecast has a margin of error of 5 percent, according to the weather office.
The monsoon is critical to India’s agriculture as it accounts for more than 70 percent of the country’s annual rainfall and fills reservoirs that help irrigate crops. It shapes the livelihood of millions and influences food prices. Deficient showers in the country, the world’s second-biggest producer of rice, wheat and cotton, often leads to lower crop output and higher imports of commodities like edible oils.