What does the delay in India’s southwest monsoon mean?

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According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the onset of India’s southwest monsoon over Kerala could be delayed by about seven days. The department has been forecasting the southwest monsoon since 2005 and has been correct most times with an error margin of four days.

Although the southwest monsoon accounts for 70% of the country’s rainfall; however, the delay does not mean that there will be a delayed monsoon for the rest of the country.

A delay in the advent of the southwest monsoon could mean a delayed Kharif crop. These include cotton, oil seeds, rice, grams, and pulses. These crops account for about 50% of India’s agricultural production.

The crop cycle starts in May when farmers begin preparing land in May and sowing by June second week. These crops complete their life cycle by the beginning of winter, so any delay influences the crop cycle.  The impact of the delay would be mostly felt in central, eastern, and northern parts of India.

The IMD also announced that the El Niño will not strongly impact the southwest monsoon. It is a phenomenon where the waters in the eastern and central Pacific get warm, trigger evaporation and lead to cloud formation over South America, and further stir rain clouds in East Asia, including India. The unusual warming of surface water in the eastern tropical pacific ocean is bad for the Indian monsoon.

In April, a “near normal monsoon” was reported by the IMD. The standard for “normal” is a Long Period Average of about 89 cm.

A near normal monsoon for India means a possible policy rate cut by the RBI. Agricultural output will receive a boost if rainfall is evenly distributed. Moreover, some experts have said that upon the arrival of the monsoon, investment in cars is likely to rise, which means a positive change  for the economy.

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