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Monsoon Rains Reach Southern India Four Days Behind Schedule

Monsoon rainfall in India, which accounts for more than 70 percent of annual precipitation, reached the mainland in southern Kerala state today, four days later than normal.

Rains covered all of Kerala and advanced into some parts of southern Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states, the India Meteorological Department said in a statement on its website today. The southern states are the nation’s biggest coffee and rubber producers.

Farmers in India, the world’s second-biggest producer of rice, wheat and sugar, depend on the timing of the monsoon to decide which crops to grow. Rains are crucial as about 55 percent of the nation’s arable land is not irrigated. Monsoon crops are sown in June and July.

“The delay in onset is not a big concern,” Kishore Narne, head of research at AnandRathi Commodities Ltd., said by phone from Mumbai today. “If there is further delay in rains advancing to more areas, oilseed prices will move up.”

Showers in the June to September rainy season, the main source of irrigation for the nation’s farmers, may be 99 percent of the long-period average of 89 centimeters, a level deemed normal, the weather office said in April.

Conditions are favorable for monsoon to advance into parts of Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and northeastern states in the next 48 hours, the bureau said.

About 63 million hectares of net sown area in the country had access to irrigation in 2008-09, compared with the total area of 141 million hectares, according to the farm ministry.

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