Despite the weatherman predicting a below-normal monsoon this time due to a possible El Nino factor, farm experts have advised not to press the panic button yet. Experts have suggested an alert and crisis readiness as the country had escaped El Nino without any problem in 1997. The monsoon rainfall is likely to be 95 % of the Long Period Average with an error margin of + 5 % or - 5%, says the Indian Meteorological Department. The IMD is keeping a watch on the sea surface conditions over the Pacific and the Indian Oceans that strongly influence the monsoon.The Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the private forecaster Skymet have also endorsed a possibility of the El Nino factor hitting the Indian monsoons.
IMD officials believe that the monsoon is expected to be below normal due to the El-Nino effect. El Nino refers to the warm sea surface temperature in the central and eastern tropical Pacific cean. This occurs every 4-12 years and had affected the monsoon in 2009, causing the worst drought in 40 years. However, a below-normal monsoon does not imply a drought because also matters is how well the rains are distributed across the country.
The 4-month long monsoon season starting from June is crucial for kharif crops likerice, soyabean, cotton and maize, as almost 60 % farm land in India is rainfed. If the El Nino really materializes, the rainfall in the western region would be affected, especially some crops like oilseeds, cotton, pulses and onion. The north-west India may not face much problem as it is irrigated. Lesser than normal rainfall can affect farml output, resulting in lower economic growth which could spike inflation.