India’s annual monsoon season accounts for about 70% of rainfall, and it officially began on the coast of southern Kerala. It happened a week later than usual, according to the weather service. The delay has had a major impact on farmers and millions of Indians this year due to intense heat, rising temperatures across the country, and dried up reservoirs.
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Monsoons are the lifeblood of the Indian economy, promoting agricultural output and boosting spending on agricultural products. The India Meteorological Department said in April that the country, where half of the farmland lacks irrigation, would likely experience average rainfall during the monsoon season. The weather bureau announces the arrival of monsoon rains only after certain measures are met, including consistency of rainfall over a designated area, intensity, cloudiness and wind speed. It defines average rainfall as between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average (89cm) for the entire four-month season beginning in June.
Precipitation is usually scarce in the summer months, but the worst situation was observed in western and southern states that saw less rainfall than usual during the 2018 monsoon season. The depletion of reservoirs has even forced some municipalities in Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad to cut supplies to ensure water lasts until the beginning of monsoons. The states of Maharashtra and Gujarat (cotton production) and Kerala (tea and rubber) were also affected.
Monsoons usually cover half of the country in the first 15 days. The rains reach central India’s soybean areas by the third week of June, and western cotton-growing areas by the first week of July. After a rainy period, yields and productivity increase, which in turn increases rural incomes and generally raises consumer spending in India. Heavy rains will spur the planting of crops like rice, corn, cane, cotton, and soybeans. However, increased production may lead to lower crop prices, which has been a major concern in rural India over the past few years.