Labourers plant saplings in a paddy field on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar
Although, Indian agriculture is gradually getting delinked from monsoon
and the impact of a failed monsoon
is not as severe as it has been in the past, but nonetheless the June to September rains are vital for farming as less than half of the total arable land in the country is under irrigation.
The June to September monsoon
months provide more than 70 per cent of the total annual precipitation that India gets.
El Nino is characterized by gradual warming of the sea surface temperature along the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It has an over-bearing impact on Indian rains and 80 per cent of El Nino years has seen below-normal rains in the country, while 60 per cent have been outright drought years.
The met department in its last El Nino watch released in end March said that in June-July-August, the sea surface temperature anomaly is expected to cross the El Nino threshold of 0.5 degree celcius.
Last year the IMD had predicted the rains to be above normal that is more than 106 per cent of the LPA, in its first forecast, while the actual rains turned out to around 97 per cent of the LPA as La Nina remained at neutral state.The forecast was with model error of plus and minus 5 per cent.
LPA is average seasonal rainfall over the country in the last 50 years starting from 1951 and it is estimated to be 89 centimeters.
Monsoon is considered normal if rain during the June to September season is 96-104 per cent of the LPA. Rainfall below 90 per cent of the average is considered as a deficient. Rainfall between 96-104 per cent of LPA is normal and that between 105 to 110 per cent of LPA is 'above normal'. Rainfall above 110 per cent of the average would mean an excessive monsoon. IMD issues its first forecast in the month of April which is subsequently updated in June.