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Late revival helps narrow monsoon deficit

Towards the end of the four-month southwest monsoon, rains have seen a revival, narrowing the cumulative national deficit to 11% of the long-period average (the 50-year average from 1950), as of Thursday.

The revival, however, isn’t enough to offset the rainfall deficiency in 31% of the country. The deficiency primarily resulted from poor showers during the first 45 days of the monsoon. The deficit, 15% on September 3, fell to 14% on September 4 and 12% on September 6. Since then, it has stood at about 11%.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in 17 regions of the country, the deficit was more than the national average.

The worst hit regions are Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Telangana and Maharashtra’s Marathwada region. In Punjab, the cumulative rainfall deficiency, as of Thursday, stood at 48%; it was about 60% 10 days earlier. During the same period, rainfall deficiency in Haryana fell from 60% to 54%. In Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Marathwada, too, the deficiency narrowed.

Rains in the seven days to Wednesday were 64% above average, the highest this monsoon, IMD said on Thursday

The late monsoon showers have revived interest in sowing kharif crops. As of September 5, the area under kharif crops was just three% less than in the year-ago period. Compared to the corresponding period last year, the fall in the area under coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds was the highest.

Experts remain divided over the impact of the late resurgence of the monsoon on the kharif crop. “I don’t think the loss to agriculture can be fully compensated by the late resurgence. In many pockets, 30-40% of the area is still unsown. Therefore, to expect the monsoon showers will wipe off all woes is wrong,” said Mahesh Palawat, chief meteorologist of Skymet Weather Services, a private weather forecasting agency.

Ramesh Chand, director of the National Centre for Agriculture Economics and Policy Research, however, believes any amount of rain is good for agriculture, even if it is towards the end of the monsoon. “I agree the late showers won’t bring things to normal and there will be some setback to production, but the situation on the ground is far better than a week ago,” he said.

Withdrawal might start early next week: Skymet

Withdrawal of the southwest monsoon might start early next week, weather forecasting agency Skymet has said. India Meteorological Department officials, however, did not confirm this. Skymet said the cyclonic weather, responsible for the current spell of rains in north India, would start weakening in the next two-three days. The southwest monsoon usually starts withdrawing from west Rajasthan on September 1.

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