Monsoon Rainfall in India Seen Normal This Year, Forecaster Says

India, the second-biggest rice, wheat and cotton grower, may get normal monsoon rainfall for the third time in four years in 2013, a private forecaster said.

Rainfall will be 103 percent of a 50-year average in the four months through September, Jatin Singh, chief executive officer of Skymet Weather Services Pvt., told reporters in New Delhi today. The India Meteorological Department, the state forecaster, will issue its first outlook later this month.

A normal monsoon is critical to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s efforts to galvanize economic growth from the lowest in a decade as 55 percent of farmland does not have access to irrigation. Agriculture accounts for about a fifth of the economy and bigger harvests may cool the highest food inflation among major economies and sustain exports of rice and wheat.

“Good rains will be a positive sign for agricultural growth and the country may have a good production this year,” said Prasoon Mathur, an analyst at Religare Commodities Ltd. “A lot will depend on spatial distribution of rainfall. In the medium term, there will be some bearish impact as already we have surplus food grains.”

The weakest monsoon in three years in 2012 parched parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat states, cutting harvests of sugar, cotton and rice. The agriculture sector is set to expand 1.8 percent this year, the least in three years, according to the government’s annual Economic Survey. The economy will expand 5 percent in 2012-2013, the least in a decade, according to the government.

India’s more than 235 million farmers depend on rain for irrigating crops such as rice and cotton. The monsoon, which brings more than 70 percent of the annual rain, usually makes landfall in the south in June and covers the whole country by July 15.

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