Reuters | Thu Jul 22, 2010 | 8:52pm IST
Monsoon rains were 17 percent below normal in the week to July 21, improving from the previous week and boosting hopes of good harvests in one of the world’s biggest consumers of sugar, grain and vegetable oils. Total rainfall since June 1, the start of the four-month season, was 12 percent below average, but heavy, well-distributed showers in early July and the past week have softened and moistened the soil, helping planting of soybean, rice, cotton and corn. In the previous week, rainfall was 24 percent below normal, raising concerns of crop loss. "A 10-20 percent rainfall deficit does not ruin production prospects for summer crops as long as they are sown on time," said H.S. Gupta, director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, told Reuters. The government, struggling to control inflation since food prices started rising after last year’s severe drought damaged rice and cane crops, making India a large sugar importer and a key factor that hoisted New York raw sugar futures to the highest in 29 years.
"I am still optimistic about the success of this year’s monsoon and farm output," said Gupta, whose institute was the research hub during India’s green revolution in the sixties. Farm scientists say that even distribution of monsoon rains will help crops. "This year’s monsoon rains have been distributed well except in some part of eastern and western India," said A.K. Singh, deputy director general at the government-run Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Last week, India’s biggest cane-growing state of Uttar Pradesh received heavy rainfall, boosting prospects of a surge in sugar output in the world’s top consumer of the sweetener. India’s sugar output is expected to rise to 25 million tonnes in the new season that starts on Oct. 1, from 18.8 million tonnes in 2009/10. The International Sugar Organisation expects India, the world’s top producer after Brazil, to export 500,000 tonnes next year as local output continues to rise after sinking to 14.7 million tonnes last year.
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