Skymet lowers monsoon forecast to ‘below-normal’

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24 August 2021, New Delhi: With the southwest monsoon all set to enter its final month of the four-month season that started from June, private weather forecasting company Skymet on Monday lowered its 2021 forecast to ‘below normal’, from its earlier forecast of ‘normal’ monsoon this year at 103 per cent of the long period average (LPA) made in April.

It said there was a possibility of drought in Gujarat and West Rajasthan. For Gujarat, it could have an adverse impact on groundnut and cotton crops.

Skymet, in its latest update, said the southwest monsoon is now expected to be 94 per cent of LPA, with a model error of plus/minus 4 per cent. The LPA of JuneSeptember is 89 centimeters.

LPA is the average rainfall received over a 50-year period between 1951 and 2001.

“Due to weak monsoon conditions, the seasonal rainfall deficit across India has come down to 9 per cent till mid-August. The below-normal monsoon conditions have not improved so far,” said Skymet.

It added that there was a possibility of less rains over Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, Kerala, and Northeast India in the full season of 2021.

However, some experts say since the sowing of kharif crops is nearly done in several parts of the country and the acreage of most crops is near their 2020 levels, a slippage in monsoon might not have a significant impact on their final yields, except in the case of oilseeds.

“Reservoir levels need to be keenly watched. If water levels drop alarmingly, it might cause disruption in the rabi harvest. Among all crops, oilseeds are the most vulnerable any sharp drop in acre age will push up its prices,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, CARE Ratings. He said the latest sowing data shows that the acreage of cotton and oilseeds has been impacted the most due to erratic monsoon this year. The RBI in its last policy statement pinned its hopes on the revival of monsoon for keeping food prices in check.

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“The revival of the southwest monsoon and a pick-up in kharif sowing, buffered by adequate food stocks, should help contain cereal price pressures in the months to come. High-frequency food price indicators show some moderation in prices of edible oils and pulses in July on the back of supply-side interventions by the government,” said RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das. He said inflation may remain close to the upper tolerance band up to Q2:2021-22, but these pressures should ebb in Q3:2021-22 on account of kharif harvest arrivals and supply-side measures kicking in.

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