Rainfall in the coming monsoon period is likely to be below normal in the north-west and southern regions and close to the normal in the rest of the country.
This was the forecast made at a weather experts' conference, organised under the aegis of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) here on Friday.
As the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is yet to come out with its formal forecast, official sources in the Agriculture Ministry would not comment on this prediction.
Agriculture expert and member of Planning Commission Abhijit Sen, however, said although the country was replete with surplus food stocks, “such signals, wherever they come from, should be taken seriously for the system to be ready with contingency plans.”
He pointed out that the north-west region was “irrigated” and, therefore, less likely to be affected. “It is unlikely that monsoon will be as bad as in 2009, but any signal that it could be, should make us prepare for it, especially in the manner we manage our surplus food stocks.”
Although food stocks are much higher than the buffer norm, there were some concerns after untimely rain hit parts of Punjab, Haryana and Bihar earlier this month, raising fears of damage to the standing wheat crop.
No statistics are immediately available, but official sources said the impact was only “sporadic.”
After three consecutive good monsoons, the IMD forecast is eagerly awaited.
Friday's meet, which looked at the likely scenario of the monsoon season in South Asia, was also attended by experts on various climates from different parts of the world, meteorologists of the national meteorological service agencies of the South Asian countries and research scientists from different institutions within the country.
In a “consensus statement” issued at the end of the two-day meet, the experts also forecast that for the region as a whole, the monsoon is most likely to be within the normal range, though there was a slight tendency to be below normal.
“The consensus outlook indicates that the large scale summer monsoon rainfall for South Asia and the season [June-September] as a whole will most likely be within the normal range. However, there is also a slight tendency for the South Asia monsoon rainfall to be below normal.
“In terms of spatial distribution of rainfall, there is likelihood of below normal rainfall over some areas of north-western and southern parts of South Asia. Rainfall conditions close to the long-period average are more likely over the remaining parts.”
The statement noted that there were “large uncertainties” over the forecast, because the prevailing La Nina phenomenon was weakening and though an El Nino Southern Oscillation-neutral condition was expected to prevail during the course of the season, there was a possibility of emergence of an El Nino condition.
“As the possibility of emergence of El Nino cannot be ruled out, there is need for continued monitoring of the regional and global climatic conditions associated with South Asian summer monsoon,” it said.
[El Nino is generally considered to be not a favourable condition for Indian monsoon.]
The conference, organised under the aegis of the World Meteorological Organisation, was attended by experts on various climates from different parts of the world, meteorologists of the national meteorological service agencies of the South Asian countries and research scientists from different institutions within the country.