New Delhi: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted that the monsoons will be near normal this year. Significantly, this would mean that the party coming to power at the conclusion of the ongoing general election will have immediate help from nature.  

In a statement, M Rajeevan Nair, secretary of the ministry of earth sciences, said that the nation will have a near-normal monsoon in 2019 due to the south-west monsoon being normal. Agriculture in India is largely fed by the monsoon and a good monsoon is good news for the Indian economy. 

The south-west monsoon, which arrives in India in June, irrigates over half of the nation’s cropland and sustains the livelihood of 58% of its population dependent on agriculture.

Nair added that the IMD expects 89cm of rainfall this year, which would be 96% of the long-period average (LPA). LPA is the average of rainfall between 1951 and 2000, which comes to 89cm. Anything between 90-95% of LPA falls under the 'below normal' category. The forecast is of immense importance as it directly influences agricultural production and has an impact on inflation and growth.

According to latest global forecasts, a weak El Nino condition has developed over equatorial Pacific Ocean and is likely to remain there throughout this summer. Such a condition is, however, expected to weaken after summer. An El Nino can cause delay in the sowing of rain-fed kharif crops, and can affect overall crop production if it gains strength. In that situation, monsoon rainfall in June and July are affected too.

Also read: Deficit rainfall: Kharif yield likely to drop by 30% in Amreli, Gujarat

"Much depends on how far the rainfall is going to be evenly distributed across regions and if the areas already facing dry conditions would see some respite. There is still some uncertainty over that," said DK Joshi, chief economist at Crisil.

Since facing droughts in 2014 and 2015, mainly due to the effect of the El Nino, the monsoon rains have been better. In 2016, India received normal rainfall in the four months between June and September. In 2017, rainfall was near-normal, but in 2018, it fell down with an overall deficit of 9.4%. What made things worse was the poor north-east monsoon, which ended with as high at 44% deficit.

“Our climate models suggest that the rainfall would be well-distributed. It would be good for the farmers during the upcoming kharif season," said KJ Ramesh, director general of meteorology at the IMD.