The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on tuesday in its First forecast(LPA) for the monsoon this year as positive with the prediction being that rainfall will be 96 percent of normal. The normal level is defined as between 96-104 percent of the long-term average. The second forecast giving details of the distribution will be provided in the first week of June.
The IMD attributed the projection to a weakening of El Niño and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) turning positive. Both factors are seen combining to boost the southwest monsoon, though doubts linger over the intensity of the rains. The IMD predicted a 38 per cent chance of near-normal showers. The forecast has a model error of five per cent.
Some global forecasters had raised an alarm that El Nino may disrupt the Indian monsoon, but IMD said the worries were premature. Another phenomenon called the Indian Ocean Dipole, also referred to as the Indian Nino, could counter El Nino because of favourable temperature changes in the Indian Ocean.
The El Nino phenomenon refers to the warming of the equatorial Pacific, releasing heat and moisture in the air and affecting global wind flows, which in turn often weakens the monsoon rain. Last year, the reverse phenomenon called La Nina prevailed although it was weak.
Private weather forecaster Skymet, meanwhile, has predicted slightly less than the average rains for 2017, due to high chances of El Nino, a weather phenomenon characterised by an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean that triggers weaker rains and droughts in the Indian sub-continent.
This year’s forecast of 96 percent comes amid a continuing drought in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Last year, the rains, while abundant in some areas, were 3 percent below normal on an overall basis and came on the heels of two straight years of a crippling drought.
The country had back-to-back droughts in 2014 and 2015 and normal monsoon in 2016.
“The latest forecast indicated a weak El Niño developing during the later part of the season, while positive IOD conditions are likely to be favourable for a normal monsoon,” – K J Ramesh, IMD Director-General.
“The forecast of a normal monsoon is a positive. Rural India is a key driver of fast-moving consumer goods growth and rural depends on monsoon since it is linked to farm output and income. The projection of a normal rainfall will, therefore, help in driving up rural consumption and accelerate overall growth.” -Sunil Kataria, Business Head,Godrej Consumer Products.
“Normal monsoon will certainly help achieve the production goals. Better price for the produce and marketing opportunities are equally important.” – M S Swaminathan,Agriculture scientist.
“It is too early to make any firm predictions as the actual rains will arrive almost two months later,” said Madan Sabnavis, Chief Economist.
“Predictions were positive but there was a need to await a clearer picture” -Mahendra Dev, Director of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research.
“The volume, timing and dispersion of monsoon rainfall in 2017 would be quite crucial,” Aditi Nayar, Senior Economist.
“In many El Niño years in the past, the rainfall has been normal. So, more than the prediction, the actual quantum of rainfall and their distribution matters the most. With the current prediction, however, sowing of short duration crops would be a strategic decision of farmers to deal with deficient rainfall, if any.” – D K Joshi of CRISIL.