The southwest monsoon (June-September), which accounts for 70% of the country’s rainfall, will be ‘normal’ this year, private weather forecaster Skymet stated on Monday in its preliminary guidance; if this comes true, the country will have normal precipitation from the annual phenomenon for the fourth year in a row.
Though India’s agriculture activities depend significantly on monsoon rainfall, increased irrigation facilities (45% of cultivable land is irrigated), improved farming practices and rising crop productivity seem to have made the link between the two rather tenuous in the recent years (see chart).
India’s food grains output has risen from 297.5 million tonne (MT) in the 2019-20 (July-June) crop year to 316 MT in 2021-22 as per the second advance estimates released by the ministry of agriculture last week. Higher food grain output ensures adequate availability in the market and curbs the possibility of spike in prices of commodities. An increase in production doesn’t necessarily result in higher income for farmers, given India’s complex agriculture marketing system. Also, implementation of the government’s support price mechanism is uneven across regions and crops.
The “agriculture and allied sectors”, which employ more than half of India’s workforce, are expected to witness a growth of 3.9% in 2021-22 in terms of gross value added (GVA). These sectors grew at 3.6% in 2020-21 even as Covid-19 severely impacted other economic activities.
Agriculture GVA was 18.8% of India’s GDP in 2021-22; the sector’s share in GDP hovered around 18-20% in the last few years.
India Meteorological Department (IMD), the official weather forecaster, and Skymet will give their first monsoon forecasts for the current year in April. Later forecasts will be expressed as percentage of the benchmark long period average (LPA).
The indication of ‘normal’ monsoon rains by Skymet is expected to provide enough time for the farmers to prepare for Kharif crops such as paddy, pulses, oilseeds, etc, a senior official told FE.
Skymet noted this could be one of the ‘normal’ monsoon years making a robust start and finishing around the midway mark of the normal range. A cumulative monsoon rain between 96- 104% of LPA (89 cm) is considered ‘normal’.
While stating that the agriculture sector has been ‘resilient’ to the Covid-19 shock, the economic survey (2021-22) identified factors such as good monsoon and various government measures to enhance credit availability, improve investments, create market facilities, and promote infrastructure development which have helped the sector.