The monsoon covered India’s southern coast almost a week later than forecast as the government pledged supply of seeds and diesel at below market prices to farmers to tackle the impact of a deficient rainy season.
Rains covered entire Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states, the main coffee and rubber growing areas, the India Meteorological Department said on Friday. Conditions are favorable for showers to advance to remaining parts of Tamil Nadu, parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, a key rice growing state, in the next 48 hours, it said. The bureau last month predicted rains to reach Kerala on May 30.
The government has advised states to conserve dam water for drinking and recommended farmers use less water-intensive crops after the weather bureau this week warned the El Nino sweeping the world will curb rainfall in India. Preparations are also underway to boost coal-fired power and offer public works to provide alternative employment to 833 million people living in villages, who depend on farming.
“The southwest monsoons are running late,” Rahul Bajoria and Siddhartha Sanyal, economists at Barclays Plc, said in a report on Friday. “While this raises concerns, the delay is not alarming yet.”
Rains normally set over Kerala on June 1 and cover the entire country by July 15. Timely arrival of showers are critical for planting of crops including rice, cotton, corn, soybeans and pulses. The rainfall will be 88 percent of a 50-year average of 89 centimeters (35 inches) between June and September, less than the 93 percent predicted in April, the meteorological department said on June 2.
The government will provide farmers subsidies on diesel and seeds this year to minimize the impact of poor rains, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Friday. Reservoir levels that are above the average in the past decade will help planting in India’s northwest region, he said.