Monsoon to end late, benefit farmers

Monsoon rains are likely to end in India later than usual this year, with plentiful showers towards the latter stages of the season helping farmers recover from two straight droughts, the chief of the country's weather office told Reuters on Friday.

Monsoon rains are the lifeblood of India's agriculture-dependent economy and a week's delay in their onset this year has caused the planting of summer-sown crops such as cotton, rice, soybean and sugar cane to drop by nearly 24 percent.

The monsoon has remained 15 percent lower than average in June, but the deficit is expected to narrow in the days to come, Laxman Singh Rathore of the Indian Meteorological Department said in an interview.

The weather office forecasts monsoon rains to be above average this year after the droughts ravaged crops and worsened rural distress.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitely on Friday singled out good rains as one of the factors helping India when Britain's vote to leave the European Union is roiling world markets.

Monsoon rains typically arrive at the southern coast of Kerala state by June 1 and start retreating by September from the western state of Rajasthan. But a late start is no guarantee of a delayed end.

"There is a strong possibility that the terminal phase will be wetter and the withdrawal will be later than normal," Rathore said.

Farmers will need to adjust their sowing period to reap a good crop, Rathore added.

An extended monsoon leaves the soil moist for the sowing of winter crops such as rapeseed, wheat and lentils.


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