The India Meteorological Department (IMD) expects that the southwest monsoon will be normal this year. This was indicated after a review meeting held by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar with IMD chief and senior officials of the Ministry.

“The IMD is expecting a normal monsoon as [of] today [Thursday],” Mr. Pawar said cautiously. “But the agency prefers to wait till the first week of May for the correct picture.”

Sources said there were still some concerns over the areas that were affected by last year’s delayed monsoon, namely, parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The Saurashtra region of Gujarat was hit hard last year and may be affected this year too, the sources said.

While the situation in Maharashtra is still bad, Madhya Pradesh and western Maharashtra continue to reel under a drinking water and fodder crisis. “It is still early to make predictions about specific regions,” the sources added.

Mr. Pawar said he had been told that, as of now, all four different weather models from different countries were showing a normal monsoon for India.

IMD chief L.S. Rathore said the first monsoon forecast would be officially released on April 26. The normal onset of monsoon is on June 1. Last year, the onset was delayed by five days, and later, a prolonged dry spell impaired kharif production to the extent of around 8 million tonnes.

On Wednesday, private firm Skymet also projected an adequate and “well-distributed” southwest monsoon in India.

The southwest monsoon is crucial for the kharif (paddy) production as well as for the rabi (wheat) output, in India. About 60 per cent of the total cultivation in the country is rain-fed.

More In: National | News