India Fears Drought from Below Normal Monsoon Rains26.4N 78.0E
Indian officials say that monsoon rains in the country are likely to be “below normal” triggering off fears about crop failure and high food prices, reports the BBC. A heat wave is sweeping the country and rains, which usually last from June to September, are delayed in many parts.
Forecasters say that rainfall is likely to be lower than predicted in April, when they said it would be near normal. The Hindustan Times said that in at least eight states, monsoon rains so far had been 60 to 90% below normal.
Northwest India appears to be worst affected by the slow rains, with only 81% rains forecast. This image focuses on an area of northern India, below Tibet (top edge) and Nepal and the Himalayas.
However, the government says there is no need for panic, and that heavy rains in July are likely to avert a drought.
Monsoon rains are critical to India’s farm prospects, which account for a sixth of economic output. Up to 70% of Indians are dependent on farm incomes, and about 60% of India’s farms depend on rains.
The summer rains are crucial to crops such as rice, soybean, sugarcane and cotton. Economists agree that the delay will cause further stress in a country where food prices are already high.