By Mayank Bhardwaj
NEW DELHI - Monsoon rains, which turned patchy in the first week of September, will pick up in the second half of the month, the state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday.
India, where nearly half of the country's farmland lacks irrigation, has so far received 7% above average rainfall since June 1, when the monsoon arrived on the southernmost Kerala coast, said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general of the IMD.
The IMD defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 88 cm for the entire four-month season beginning in June.
Higher rains in the latter part of September will make up for the shortfall in the first half of the month, and cumulative rainfall during the entire season will be in line with IMD's earlier forecast, Mohapatra said.
In its revised forecast issued on June 1, IMD said India was likely to receive above average monsoon rains for the second straight year in 2020.
After arriving on June 1, the monsoon covered the entire country by June 26, nearly two weeks earlier than usual, spurring crop sowing in the world's top producer of farm goods.
India received 17% above average rains in June, but July rains were 10% below average. The monsoon again picked up in August, delivering 27% above average rains.
Monsoon rains were 31% below average in the week to Sept. 2.
Rains have been evenly distributed across India.
Of the 36 meteorological subdivisions of India, the monsoon has been either average or above average in 33 this year, Mohapatra said.
"Rains are likely to gather momentum later this month, but as of now we haven't made an assessment when the monsoon will start withdrawing," he said.
The IMD treats dry weather conditions for five straight days in western India to be the primary criterion signifying the retreat of the monsoon.
(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; editing by David Evans)