From Surplus to Shortfall: India’s Monsoon Tale of June, July, and August
The upcoming September is anticipated to witness below-average rainfall across most of India, with 32 out of 36 meteorological subdivisions expected to report diminished rainfall. The cumulative outlook suggests a 20-millimeter shortfall from the average. This follows predictions of August 2023 being the driest in 123 years, necessitating 290 millimeters of rainfall from August 22 to September 30 for a ‘normal’ rainfall status.
In June 2023, India received 148.6 mm of rainfall, 10% less than the Long Period Average (LPA) of 165.3 mm. Yet, the pre-monsoon season saw a 12% surplus, with 146.6 mm of rainfall compared to the normal 130.6 mm. North India encountered record-breaking heavy rainfall during July 1-10, 2023.
Data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) indicates a 36% rain deficit in August, with the most significant shortages of 66% in south peninsular India and 45% in northwest India. Although monsoon rains are projected to improve in the northeast and some central regions over the next two weeks, dry conditions are likely to persist in the northwestern and southern states.
Northern India faced devastating consequences due to heavy monsoonal rains and flooding, causing structural damage, loss of life, and crop destruction. The uneven rainfall distribution impacted rice, vegetables, and pulses, submerging paddy fields for over a week and forcing replanting after waters receded. Conversely, the southern, western, and central parts experienced a significant rainfall deficit in August, potentially affecting yields of crops like rice and soybeans, leading to potential price hikes and food inflation. However, rice sowing has shown improvement compared to the previous year.
Farmers, who typically commence planting in June, face challenges due to the prolonged dry spell and low soil moisture, which could hamper crop growth. The intricate dance of India’s monsoon remains a critical factor impacting agriculture and the nation’s food supply.
In the intricate tapestry of India’s monsoon, the prospects for September paint a picture of below-average rainfall across most of the nation. With 32 out of 36 meteorological subdivisions projected to experience diminished rainfall, a cumulative 20-millimeter shortfall from the average is anticipated. This forecast follows on the heels of August 2023, which marked the driest spell in 123 years, necessitating 290 millimeters of rainfall for a return to ‘normal’ levels. As the nation navigates this delicate balance, the interplay between rainfall and agricultural outcomes remains a pivotal factor, impacting not only crop yields but also the broader landscape of food inflation and security.