March 29, 2017 | Dr. S. B. Goilkar, Sr. Economist
The overall rainfall during 2016 monsoon season from June to September has been almost normal. The normal rainfall was crucial considering the preceding two years’ consecutive droughts in most parts of the country. The better rainfall during the current year helped for increased sowing area, better water levels of most reservoirs in the country and raised hopes for better kharif as well as rabi crops during 2016-17. The overall better rainfall also is expected to ease rising inflation and to support for better economic growth during the current financial year.
Although the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had projected overall rainfall excess to 106 per cent during the monsoon this year, the actual rainfall has been 97% during the period from 1st June, 2016 to 29th September, 2016, according to the latest data released by the IMD. The IMD’s current year’s prediction was the first such “above normal” prediction since 1999. In its first seasonal forecast for 2016 IMD had said that the overall rainfall was to be fairly distributed, which is crucial for required food grain production for the country as well as for exports.
The IMD had issued monsoon forecast for 2016 in three stages. In its first stage long range rainfall forecast issued on 12th April, 2016 the IMD has said that the overall June to September rainfall this was to be 106 per cent. The second forecast was issued in June for the same range, while the third forecast was issued on 1st August, 2016 for the half period of the monsoon. A private weather forecasting agency Skymet also had predicted that the monsoon would be "above normal" in 2016 at 105 per cent of Long Period Average (LPA). However, the actual seasonal rainfall over the country as a whole was 97 per cent LPA.
Monsoon is considered normal if rain during the June to September season is 96-104 per cent of the LPA. LPA is average seasonal rainfall over the country in the past 50 years, starting 1951, and it is estimated to be 89 centimeters. The forecast is with model error of five per cent. The overall good rainfall has been mainly because of the dreaded El Nino weather phenomenon that caused the back-to-back droughts of 2014 and 2015.
Of the 36 metrological sub-divisions 23 sub-divisions, constituting 72 per cent of the total area of the country received normal rainfall, while 4 meteorological sub-divisions received excess rainfall (13 per cent of the total area) during the period from 1st June to 30th September, 2016, against 18 and 1 sub-divisions reported in the previous year respectively. However, 9 sub-divisions, constituting 15 per cent of the total area of the country received deficient rainfall during the period, against 17 sub-divisions reported deficient rainfall during the previous year.
Rainfall within 96 to 104 per cent of Long Period Average (LPA) is considered as normal, while rainfall between 104 to 110 per cent is considered as above normal, beyond 110 per cent rainfall is considered as excess rainfall. Rainfall below 90 per cent of the average is considered as deficient rainfall.
The overall average rainfall was 862 mm over the Indian sub-continent during the period, 3 per cent deficient to the normal rainfall of 887.5 mm. Four sub-divisions including West Rajasthan, East Rajasthan, Konkan & Goa and Marathwada reported excess rainfall, while 9 sub-divisions including Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh & Delhi, Gujarat Region, Coastal Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu & Podichery and Assam & Meghalaya reported deficient rainfall.
The onset of the monsoon was delayed by about one week during the season. The rainfall also was widespread over the Indian sub-continent as predicted by the IMD. Nearly half of India received normal rainfall during the first month (June 2016) of the monsoon. As of 28th June, 2016, 49% of the country had received normal rainfall, 17% had received excess rainfall and 34% had got deficient or scanty rain.
Parts of central India such as Maharashtra and east Madhya Pradesh faced deficit rainfall, while Central Maharashtra and Vidarbha recorded a rainfall deficit of 34% and 29%, respectively during June this year. Eastern Madhya Pradesh reported shortfall of 22%. In the southern peninsula rainfall was 16% above average and in north-west India it has been 2% more than the normal rainfall considered for June. However, central India, east and north-east India received deficit rainfall of 23% and 26%, respectively.
At the same time, heavy to very heavy rain was recorded at places over coastal Andhra Pradesh, Vidarbha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Konkan, Goa and coastal Karnataka. There will be rainfall in south Gujarat, central Maharashtra, Marathwada, Telangana, Assam, Meghalaya and Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the last week of June.
The overall rainfall in July was 7% above the LPA. A belt comprising of the States and Meteorological sub divisions such as west Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, east Rajasthan, Vidarbha, Marathawada, Madhya Maharashtra, north interior Karnataka, Rayalaseema and Tamil Nadu have received widespread and excess rainfall during July 2016. It completely wiped out the 11% deficiency of June rainfall as the cumulative rainfall for the first half of the monsoon season (June-July) is normal with 0% departure from the LPA.
The torrential rainfall continued in August in some parts of the country. The country received average rainfall 2 per cent less than the average by the end of August 2016. Heavy rainfall continued during the month in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Eastern Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Vidharbha, Marathawada, Odisha, Jharkhand and Assam. Parts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Eastern Rajasthan, Gujarat and Assam faced floods during the month.
After weakening during first part of September, the heavy rainfall became active over most parts of the country, resulting in floods during second part of the month.
The better rainfall during the year encouraged Indian farmers for more land area under sowing, which has been above normal sowing area. The Kharif crop sowing as on 23rd September, 2016 standing at 1067.33 lakh hectares has been above normal sowing area of 1062.50 lakh hectares. The sown are this year has also has been more than 1030.89 lakh hectare at this time last year.
As recorded by the Agricultural Ministry rice has been sown/transplanted in 387.04 lakh hectares, pulses in 145.84 lakh hectares, coarse cereals in 189.58 lakh hectares, oilseeds in 189.16 lakh hectares, sugarcane in 45.77 lakh hectares and cotton in 102.55 lakh hectares.
Driven by hopes of a good monsoon, the Centre has set an ambitious target of producing a record 270.1 million tonnes (mt) of food grains in the crop year beginning June, 2016. The government’s target for 2016-17 is 7% higher than the 252.23 mt of production estimated for 2015-16. India’s pulses production is targeted at 20.75 mt in 2016-17, 21.6% higher than the estimated 17.06 mt produced in 2015-16.
The ambitious target is even higher than India’s record food grain output of 265 mt in 2013-14. Last year, the government had set a target of 264 mt (2015-16), which eventually fell short by 12 mt—according to the third advance estimate. Similarly, for 2014-15, the centre had set a target of 261 mt that eventually fell short by 9 mt. In 2013-14, owing to a good monsoon, India had surpassed its food grain production target of 259 mt by over 5 mt.
Similarly, target production of wheat is 96.5 mt for 2016-17, higher than the estimated 94 mt crop size in 2015-16, and surpassing the highest-ever wheat crop of 95.85 mt in 2013-14. Target for oilseed production, for which India is heavily dependent on imports, is set at 35mt, 35% higher than the 25.9 mt estimated for 2015-16. Targets for cotton output is set at 36 million bales (of 170kg each) for 2016-17, compared to 30.5 million bales estimated for 2015-16.
The heavy rainfall continued over parts of the country during the first week of October. Marathwada and Vidharbha flooded with heavy rainfall during this period. The South-West monsoon continued after September this year, but post-monsoon North-Eastern heavy showers were not seen this year. The overall good monsoon continuing with some heavy showers till the first week of October are expected to help for better rabi crop in the country.