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India monsoon rains above average for second year in row

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Commuters make their way along a waterlogged street following monsoon rainfalls, in Gurgaon, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on August 19, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

India's monsoon rainfall in 2020 was above average for the second year in a row, the first time that has happened in more than six decades, weather department officials said on Wednesday.

The rainfall, which was 9% above average, replenished reservoirs and built up ground water, helping assuage water shortages in pockets of the country of 1.3 billion people.

Heavy downpours damaged some summer-sown crops that are close to being harvested, such as cotton, pulses, rice, and soybeans; though the rains will also help farmers plant more winter-sown crops like chickpeas, rapeseed, rice, and wheat.

Analysts said bumper winter-sown crops should improve earnings for farmers down the line and help revive rural demand hit badly by the coronavirus pandemic.

Farming accounts for about 15% of India's $2.9-trillion economy but employs more than half of its population.

The monsoon delivers about 70% of India's annual rainfall and determines the yield of crops such as rice, wheat, sugarcane, and oilseed.

A vendor stands in a flooded flower market following heavy monsoon rains, in Mumbai, India, on September 23, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Farmers are likely to expand areas planted with winter-sown crops due to the ample soil moisture and an increase in the price the government pays for some crops, said Subhranil Dey, a senior research analyst at commodity brokerage SMC Comtrade Ltd in New Delhi.

"We can expect bumper production of winter crops and the government could be forced to buy more than normal," Dey said.

India's monsoon generally begins in June and starts to retreat from the northwestern parts of the country by September 17; but this year, it only began to withdraw on September 28, the IMD said earlier this week.

Water levels in India's main reservoirs were at 93% of their storage capacity as of September 24, above the 10-year average of 79%, government data shows.

(Source: Agencies)

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