The country suffered a devastating drought in 2009
INDIA’S monsoon rains, crucial to the country’s farmers and growth in Asia’s third-largest economy, will be normal for a third straight year, the weather office has forecast.
The annual rains, which sweep across the subcontinent from June to September, are key to prosperity in rural areas where two-thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people live.
“It will be a normal monsoon this year,” Earth Sciences Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told a televised news conference late Thursday (April 26) in New Delhi, adding rainfall was expected to be 99 per cent of the long-term average.
India gets 60 per cent of its precipitation from the rains and a bad monsoon can spell financial disaster for its 235 million farmers, many of them smallholders eking out a living.
The country suffered a devastating drought in 2009.
The eagerly awaited forecast marked a rare piece of good news for the Congress-led government, reeling from a spate of corruption scandals, a stumbling economy and stubborn inflation.
The government is hoping that a good monsoon will help keep a lid on food prices, whose surge has hit hardest India’s hundreds of millions of poor, the Congress party’s biggest supporters, and also help economic growth pick up.
While agriculture’s share of India’s nearly $2-trillion economy has shrunk to around 14 per cent from 30 per cent in the early 1990s, the rains are still vital to its fortunes.
Rural spending accounts for over 50 per cent of domestic consumption and a failed monsoon hits demand for everything from fridges to cars.
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