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Monsoon is here. But will it end the drought?

Vishakh Unnikrishnan | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST
The need
  • India has seen two back-to-back droughts over the last two years
  • The badly-affected agricultural sector has brought down Indian economy as a whole
The prediction
  • The MET department has predicted 106% more rainfall than normal this year
  • The La Nina effect should also aid in a good monsoon this year
More in the story
  • How do the monsoons spread across India?
  • Which state needs the most rain?

Being primarily agrarian, a huge chunk of the Indian economy depends on how abundantly our farms produce. Every other aspect of the country's economy is somehow or the other - tied to the farms.

With 266 districts across 11 states in India having been declared drought-hit this year, it isn't a pretty picture for anyone. India has witnessed four droughts over the last six years, with two back to back droughts in 2014 and 2015.

A lack of adequate rainfall in the country affects around 330 million people. It is therefore important to understand that a good monsoon is vital for those whose lives rely on rains.

Here are some facts that show the importance of good monsoons for India.

1. Around 55% of farmland in the country does not have access to irrigation and India is the world's largest producer and consumer of food.

2. 70% of the the population directly or indirectly relies on farming, and around 58% of the total employment in the country comes from agriculture.

3. While the country reels from droughts that began from last year's dry spell, 25% of the population has been awaiting the monsoons and meteorological experts have predicted it to be a good one.

While the government attempts to improve the irrigation infrastructure in the country, the monsoon has finally arrived in India, albeit seven days late.

How do things look this year?

The good news, however, is the India Meteorological Department (IMD) declaring that the country will receive around 106% rainfalll. Here are some facts on the monsoons:

1. In two consecutive years of a failed monsoon followed by droughts and unseasonal showers - the monsoons have arrived after Kerala recorded widespread rainfall for over 48 hours.

2. A major factor behind the poor monsoon last year was the El Nino phenomenon, which can be termed as the unusual warming of Pacific waters. But this year the opposite, which means the cooling of Pacific waters is expected. Scientists call it La Nina, which is linked with heavier rainfall.

3. MET scientists expect the monsoons to move rapidly this year and expect it to hit central India early next week.

4. The important months are between June and September, when the sowing season for summer crops starts in India. The country receives 80% of the total rainfall in a year during these months and it helps feed around 40% of total population.

5. 44% of the total food production of the country comes from rain-fed areas where there is no adequate infrastructure for irrigation

6. The state that requires rains the most is Telangana, which has been hit worst by drought and has reported 300 heat-related deaths this year.

But all is not good, the progress of the monsoon has been delayed over the last few weeks. So much so, that the IMD has advised farmers in Maharashtra to postpone sowing until the rains reach the state.

How does monsoon engulf the Indian sub-continent?

It starts with the south-west monsoon that was expected to hit the Andamans around 20 May and then spreads across the country. It advances in two directions.

Towards the south-east to north-west direction in the Bay of Bengal starting mid-May to the first week of June, and along the west coast and up, from May-end to the second week of June.

The monsoon then proceeds northward, and, if everything goes fine, covers the entire country by mid-July.

What is the difference between monsoon and pre-monsoon showers?

Pre-monsoon showers, or mango showers as we in India like to call it as they help in the early ripening of mangoes, are common in Kerala, Karnataka and parts of Tamil Nadu.

As per the IMD, March to May is when the country receives the pre-monsoon showers. They usually result in thunderstorms that are caused when there is intense heat and high amount of moisture.

All in all, one can look forward to a brilliant rainy season that India.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

More in Catch

A plentiful monsoon: Facts and figures while India waits

Monsoon to be delayed by seven days: MET department

Monsoon hits Kerala: Witness the joy of the first rain in these photos

First published: 18 June 2016, 9:08 IST
Vishakh Unnikrishnan @sparksofvishdom

A graduate of the Asian College of Journalism, Vishakh tracks stories on public policy, environment and culture. Previously at Mint, he enjoys bringing in a touch of humour to the darkest of times and hardest of stories. One word self-description: Quipster.