Reuters | Tue Jul 6, 2010 | 5:24pm IST
India’s annual monsoon, crucial for a rebound in farm output after last year’s drought, has rapidly advanced to cover the entire country, boosting crop sowing and likely tempering food price inflation. The weather office has forecast widespread rains in the cane- and rice-growing regions in the north and in the oilseed-growing areas in the central and western parts. Rainfall was 16 percent below normal in June, when the monsoon did not advance beyond central India for two weeks, but heavy showers in the past week have narrowed the deficit to 13 percent. "The monsoon has covered the entire country by about nine days ahead of schedule," said B.P. Yadav, director at the India Meteorological Department.
The revival of monsoon rains, the main source of water for 60 percent Indian farms, will lift soybean and groundnut crops in the world’s top vegetable oils importer and help the cane crop in the Uttar Pradesh state, which produces half the cane in the world’s top sugar consumer. The weather office expects total June-September rainfall to be normal despite the June deficit. But forecasters and analysts said the rapid progress of rains in recent days was not too significant; because last year the monsoon had covered the entire country by July 3 and India still face the worst drought in 37 years. "It’s too early to say that the entire season will have a normal monsoon," said D.K. Joshi, principal economist at CRISIL, a rating agency. "The development is positive and it will at least curb inflationary expectations on food," he said.
Last year’s draught has led to a surge in food prices, with the headline inflation rate hitting above 10 percent in May and prompting the central bank to raise interest rates by 25 basis points in an inter-meeting move on Friday. High inflation has also triggered a series of protests including a successful national strike against high prices that
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.
Reuters | Fri May 14, 2010 | 7:51pm IST
Monsoon rains, critical to farm output in India’s trillion-dollar economy, will arrive on May 30, two days before normal, Earth Sciences Minister Prithviraj Chavan said on Friday. India’s weather office has already forecast a normal June-September monsoon this year after the 2009 season saw the worst drought in nearly four decades. The forecast will be updated next month. A statement from the India Meteorology Department said monsoon clouds would appear over the Andaman Sea next week and move to the mainland ahead of the normal onset date of June 1.
"The model suggests the date of onset of south-west monsoon over Kerala is likely to be on May 30, with a model error of four days," the statement said. Weak rainfall last year led to a sustained rise in food prices in India, while New York Raw sugar futures soared to a 29-year high because of a big deficit in India, the world’s biggest consumer. Monsoon rains are also vital for the soybean crop in India, the world’s biggest importer of edible oils. Last year’s drought raised India’s edible oil import needs, helping it overtake China to become the world’s biggest buyer.
Reuters | Tue Apr 27, 2010 | 4:03pm IST
Monsoon rains, vital for farm output and economic growth, may arrive 10 days before the usual date current weather conditions indicate, a widely consulted former weather director said on Tuesday. "This year the monsoon may hit the Kerala coast a week to ten days ahead of schedule," said P.V. Joseph, a former director at the India Meteorological Department and professor emeritus, department of atmospheric science, at the Cochin University of Science and Technology. Joseph said the forecast was based on a phenomenon known as "pre-monsoon rain peak" in which the temperature of the Bay of Bengal off the east coast of the subcontinent rises about 40 days before the monsoon and clouds near the equator move north to bring rains on the southern tip of India. When monsoon rains are delayed, this phenomenon occurs in early May, but this year it was observed in the first half of April, signalling early arrival of rains, he said.
"It is an indicator of coming monsoons. In most of the years, it has come true," said Joseph, who is often consulted by the government’s weather office and invited to lecture on monsoon trends by the ministry of earth sciences which funds weather research. "Last year the pre-monsoon rain peak took place in April and the monsoon arrived earlier," said Joseph, a resident of Cochin, now widely called Kochi, a city in the southwest Indian state of Kerala which hosts a key weather station for monsoon observance. A senior weather scientist at a government body agreed there is a correlation between the "pre-monsoon rain peak" and the onset of the monsoon, but there may be a gap of up to four days between the forecast based on this phenomenon and the start of rains.
Reuters | Fri Apr 23, 2010 | 6:27pm IST
Summer monsoon in India is likely to be normal this year, the government said on Friday, allaying fears over an event crucial to the economic fate of the world’s second-most populous nation. Rainfall is likely to be 98 percent of the long-term average, said the weather office, whose forecast is closely watched by commodities and financial markets as well as the government, which is battling to rein in inflation against a backdrop of intense protests over rising food prices. "Rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be normal," B.P. Yadav, spokesman for the India Meteorological Office, told reporters, adding that the forecast model had an error margin of 5 percent.
Last year’s forecast for a normal monsoon was followed by India’s worst drought in 37 years, and analysts said that while Friday’s outlook was reassuring it was too early to celebrate given inaccurate predictions in the past and the importance of rainfall distribution. "A forecast of normal monsoon will help allay the anxiety about the drop in food production and the resultant high levels of food price inflation we witnessed last year," said Gaurav Kapur, senior economist at Royal Bank of Scotland in Mumbai. "However, spatial distribution of the monsoon will also be critical as the year progresses," he said. Rainfall would be boosted by weakening of the El Nino phenomenon, which disrupts normal weather patterns, and the heat wave prevailing in northern India, Ajit Tyagi, director general of the India Meteorological Department, told reporters. "Obviously, it is a good forecast. There is low probability of rainfall going below normal as of now. El Nino is in a declining phase, and it is approaching neutral state."
Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:05pm IST
India’s economy is seen growing at a faster pace in 2010/11 than earlier expected, supported by a global recovery, domestic demand and a double-digit expansion in factory output, a Reuters poll shows. Such expansion will generate greater inflation than previously expected, requiring a steady series of rate rises from the central bank by the end of December. Asia’s third-biggest economy will grow at annual rates above 8 percent in coming quarters and is seen expanding 8.4 percent for the 2010/11 fiscal year, the survey of 20 analysts showed. A similar quarterly poll in January had forecast growth of 8 percent.
The poll showed that growth would accelerate in the fiscal year 2011/12 to 8.6 percent. "A good pick-up in growth will depend upon good private demand and investment demand. Two factors sustaining growth in FY11 will be a normal monsoon and the level of global crude prices in the band of $70 to $80 a barrel," said Rupa Rege Nitsure, chief economist at Bank of Baroda. "Growth will gradually build up because real sector adjustment takes time," he added. India’s economy grew 6.7 percent in 2008/09, slowing from rates of 9 percent or more in the previous three years. The government has said it expects growth in 2009/10, or the fiscal year that ended on March 31, to have been 7.2 percent.
Analysts expect the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to tighten policy further, raising the repo rate , at which the central bank lends to banks, by 100 basis points to 6.0 percent by the end of December from the current 5 percent. Last month, the RBI raised the repo rate and the reverse repo rate , at which it absorbs excess
Reuters | Wed Apr 14, 2010 | 2:59pm IST
Weather scientists from the United States and Britain expect normal monsoon rains in India this year, reinforcing the top local forecaster’s view that chances of another drought in the country are remote. Monsoon forecasts for India are keenly watched by traders and analysts as the south Asian nation, one of the world’s top producers and consumers of sugar, wheat, rice and edible oils, depends on rains to irrigate 60 percent of its farms. "We expect near-normal or above normal monsoon for India," M Vellinga, senior scientist at the British weather office, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Pune on Wednesday. Last year, the June-September season, which delivers 75-90 percent of the total rainfall received in most parts of India, was the worst since 1972, stoking inflation and turning it into the world’s top buyer of edible oils and a key importer of sugar.
The latest data shows the food price index was up an annual 17.70 percent in the middle of March, strengthening expectations for a hike in interest rates when the central bank reviews policy next month. Good rainfall will ease pressure on the government, which has seen widespread protests over rising prices, and faces a stormy parliament session from Thursday as rival parties have teamed up to oppose ballooning prices. The head of India’s weather office said monsoon rains were unlikely to fail for the second successive year.