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NEW DELHI: India is likely to see normal monsoon rains in 2022, the state-run weather office said on Tuesday, the fourth straight year of normal or above normal summer rains that spur farm and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-biggest economy.

India is likely to see 103% rainfall of a long-term average this year, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD), told a news conference. The IMD in April forecast monsoon rains at 99% of the long-term average. The IMD defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96%and 104% of a 50-year average of 87 cm (35 inches) for the entire four-month season beginning in June. “At this stage, we can see that the rainfall is largely expected to be well distributed in most parts of the country,” Mohapatra said.

Monsoon rains are expected to be average in June, he said. The monsoon arrived on the coast of southern Kerala state on Sunday, two days ahead of the usual time. Monsoon rains are likely to be average over the central region, where crops such as soybean and cotton are grown. Plentiful monsoon rains in the country would boost rice output from India, the world’s biggest exporter of the staple. India’s surprise decision this month to ban wheat exports had raised doubts about some curbs on overseas sales of rice as well. Government and industry officials told Reuters that India did not plan to curb rice exports. One of the world’s biggest producers and consumers of farm goods, India relies on monsoon rains to water almost half its farmland, which lacks irrigation. Farming contributes around 15% to India’s $2.7 trillion economy while sustaining more than half the population of 1.3 billion.

Other than watering farms and recharging aquifers and reservoirs, regular rains during the monsoon season can bring relief from the searing heat.

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