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India Sees Partial Late Monsoon Recovery

Late end-season rains will help narrow India’s total monsoon rainfall deficit to 15 to 18 per cent, boosting depleted reservoirs and helping winter crops, the head of the Indian weather office told Reuters Sept. 8.

Since June 1, monsoon rains have been 20 per cent below normal and heavy showers in the past week have reduced the total seasonal deficit by three percentage points, India Meteorological Department Director General Ajit Tyagi said.

“We hope the seasonal rainfall will be 15 to 18 per cent below normal,” said Tyagi, revising his Aug. 28 forecast of a 20 per cent deficit.

Tyagi said the country could expect heavy rains for at least another week, but the withdrawal of the monsoon, which usually begins to wind down in early September, would be delayed.

“The start of monsoon withdrawal is expected to be late by one week to 10 days over northwest India,” Tyagi said.

But late rainfall, particularly in end-September and next month, will worry sugar mills as it may delay harvesting and cane crushing in the country, hitting output.

India’s sugarcane crop contracted last year because farmers shifted to other, more remunerative crops, making India swing from being a big exporter last year to a large importer in the current season.

This year, the driest June in 83 years and a 27 per cent rain deficit in August has hit the cane crop, particularly in the top-producing Uttar Pradesh state, helping raw futures prices surge to the highest in nearly three decades.

Monsoon rains usually withdraw completely from the country by Oct. 15, but Tyagi said it was too early forecast the date of total withdrawal.

“Time has not yet come to comment on when complete withdrawal will take place. It is difficult to predict. This year monsoon came about a week ahead of its usual date.”

The weather office data showed that daily rainfall had been 22-62 per cent higher than normal since Sept. 3.

But the seasonal rainfall still continued to be 30 per cent deficient in the northwest India and 15 per cent below normal in central India, the data showed.

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