Reuters | Mon May 31, 2010 | 3:31pm IST
Monsoon rains, vital for farm output in India’s trillion-dollar economy, have hit the country’s southern coast as scheduled, the chief of the weather office said on Monday. Good rainfall after last year’s drought would help boost the country’s output of grain and oilseeds; help calm inflation that has triggered widespread protests and prompt the government to relax curbs on export of wheat and rice. "The monsoon has hit the Kerala coast," Ajit Tyagi, director general of the India Meteorological Department, told Reuters.
The four-month monsoon season has begun sooner than the usual date of June 1, in line with the weather office’s forecast that it would hit the mainland on May 30. "It’s raining here," D. Sivananda Pai, director of the weather office, said by phone from Cochin, now widely called Kochi. Widespread rains/thundershowers would fall across Kerala, the weather office said in its outlook for this week. The monsoon rains are vital for the soybean, cane and rice crops in India, the world’s top buyer of edible oils and the biggest consumer of sugar.
The timely onset would help rein in double-digit food inflation by improving production prospects for summer-sown crops, said S. Raghuraman, a senior analyst with Delhi-based consulting firm Agriwatch. "The start is good," he added. After last year’s driest season in nearly four decades, the June-September rains this year are expected to be 98 percent of the long-term average. Last year, monsoon rains had hit the Kerala coast on May 23, a week ahead of the usual date, but actual rainfall was 23 percent below normal for the full season.