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Coronavirus
VERY HIGH Source: covid.gov.pk
Pakistan Deaths
23,087
3924hr
Pakistan Cases
1,011,708
3,26224hr
6.6% positivity
Sindh
369,245
Punjab
353,695
Balochistan
29,681
Islamabad
85,947
KPK
142,139

NEW DELHI: India is likely to receive normal monsoon rains this year, weather officials said on Tuesday, upgrading a prior forecast and boosting expectations for larger farm output amid a devastating second wave of COVID-19 infections.

The monsoon, which is expected to hit the southern coast around Thursday, is crucial for India’s $2.7-trillion economy, as it delivers nearly 70% of the rain needed by farms, besides replenishing reservoirs and aquifers.

The rainfall is expected to be well distributed, with most areas expected to receive an average to above-average amount, said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

“Weather conditions have become even more favourable since we issued our last forecast in April, and that’s why we’ve upgraded our forecast,” Mohapatra told a news conference.

The weather office set its forecast at 101% in a range of average, or normal, rainfall that it defines as being between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 88 cm (35 inches) for the entire four-month season.

Its April forecast had put the figure at 98%.

Monsoon rains are expected to be average at the beginning of the season in June, Mohapatra said. It is a time when tens of thousands of farmers typically start planting crops such as rice, corn, cotton, soybeans, sugarcane and peanuts.

The IMD will issue its forecast for July rainfall in the last week of June.

India’s northwest, which grows rice and cotton, could get average rainfall, while the central region, where soybean, sugar cane and cotton are grown, could receive rainfall that is above the average, the department added.

Southern India, where rice, rubber and coffee are grown, could get average rainfall, but the rains could be below average in the northeastern rice- and tea- growing region, it said. The revised monsoon forecast would help the farm sector and minimise the risk of an escalation in food inflation at the time of an upswing in global commodity prices, said QuantEco Research economist Yuvika Singhal.

Nearly half of India’s farmland gets no irrigation and is dependent on the annual rains from June to September. Farming accounts for nearly 15% of the economy but sustains more than half of a population of 1.3 billion. Monsoon rains usually lash the southern tip of Kerala state around June 1 and retreat by September.