East India's Rice Areas Get Heavy Rains In Past Week
Author: Ratnajyoti Dutta
Heavy downpour over rice-growing areas of eastern India improved weekly rainfall in the week to June 22, the weather office said on Thursday, erasing the previous week's deficit.
The monsoon rains were 23 percent above normal in the past week, with rice-growing eastern states of West Bengal and Orissa receiving heavy rainfall, which would support planting of the main summer food crop.
The two eastern states share one-fifth of rice output of India, the world's second top producer of the grain.
In the previous week, the monsoon rainfall was 9 percent below average in cotton-growing areas of southern India and rice-growing areas of the eastern region.
Last year, the rainfall was 21 percent below normal in the week to June 23, but the four-month rainy season ended as a normal rainfall year after 2009 -- which was the driest season in over three decades and made the country a net importer of sugar.
The June-September monsoon is in the early stages and crops are not greatly affected by the quantity of rains now. What is key is the distribution of rainfall in mid-July after the monsoon covers the entire country.
Until June 22, the seasonal rainfall was 11 percent above average and well-distributed over the major cane growing areas of south and western India.
But on Tuesday, the weather office lowered its seasonal forecast for the rains to just below normal.
Monsoon rains could still pick up after July 15, during the key planting month for rice, sugar cane and corn.
"There could be a weak phase in the monsoon progress next week," an official at the weather office said.
He said lower than average rainfall over south and western region in the past week would not impact output prospects for crops like cane, cotton, tea, rubber and coffee, as they do not need heavy showers after initial planting.
Trade officials said soybean planting would pick up from next week as growing areas of central India have received heavy rainfall in the past week.
"Soybean planting has started in some parts and is expected to pick up in main areas of the central India," said Rajesh Agrawal, executive committee member of the Indore-based Soybean Processors Association of India.
A well distributed monsoon rains would boost farm production and help ease high food inflation that stood at 9.13 percent in the year to June 11.
The higher-than-average rainfall in the past week also raised water reservoirs capacity to 26 percent, an improvement of three percentage points from the previous week.
(Editing by Malini Menon)