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Monsoon covers entire country

The southwest monsoon finally covered the entire country on Thursday, only two days behind its scheduled date.

“The southwest monsoon has further advanced into the remaining parts of north Arabian Sea, Saurashtra and Kutch, Gujarat region and west Rajasthan. Thus, it covered the entire country on Thursday,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) stated.

The strong revival in monsoon activity over central, western and northern parts of the country not only facilitated the near-timely coverage of the entire country, but also considerably narrowed down the monsoon deficit this season. The deficit is now estimated to be about 30 per cent of the long period average (LPA).

By June-end, this deficit was almost 43 per cent, making it one of the driest months in 100 years. It also raised concerns of a first drought in five years.

The revival of monsoon rains in the grain bowl of northwest and central regions should help speed up sowing of main summer crops such as rice, maize, soybean and cotton.

Rains are vital to India’s farm sector, which accounts for 14 per cent of the country’s $ 2-trillion economy. Two-thirds of its 1.2-billion population live in rural areas.

Southwest monsoon entered India this year in June after a delay of four days. Since then its progress has been rather patchy.

The IMD in its second-stage forecast had said the rains in 2014 monsoon season would be 93 per cent of LPA, the average of 50 years starting from 1951. This was lower than the 95 per cent LPA forecast in April.

The strong revival of rains has brightened the prospects of kharif crops, whose acreage was almost 50 per cent less than last year, till the first week of July.

Officials said the acreage of oilseeds, pulses, cotton and coarse cereals could see a big jump this week compared to the previous weeks.

In the week ending July 11, kharif crops were sown in about 25.66 million hectares, only half the area covered during the corresponding period last year. More importantly, acreage was 35 per cent less than normal area (average area sown in the past five years).

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