Monsoon cheer forecast to continue as La Nina kicks in


NEW DELHI  – The El Nino weather pattern is likely to dissipate by early August, giving way to La Nina, two top officials of the Indian weather office said on Tuesday, swelling already bountiful monsoon rains that are crucial for India’s farm sector.

India is almost halfway through its four-month monsoon season and plentiful rains so far have lifted farmers’ hopes of a revival in output and incomes after the El Nino weather phenomenon led to two straight years of drought.

El Nino is a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, causing dry weather in some parts of the world and floods in others.

A weakening El Nino is likely to give way to La Nina, characterised by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, the two officials said.

“Global factors of monsoon variability are set to confirm our prediction of above-average rains,” one of the Indian Meteorological Department officials said, adding that La Nina could develop early next month.

A U.S. government weather forecaster said last week that the La Nina weather phenomenon is favoured to develop during August through October.

Rains covered the whole of India on July 13 and are 2 percent above average since June 1, helping the steady planting of summer-sown crops such as sugarcane, cotton, rice and lentils.

India’s forecast of above-average rainfall needs to come to fruition if the country of 1.3 billion is to tame inflation and remain a net exporter of food products this year.

The country’s rain-fed farms account for nearly 15 percent of its $2 trillion economy and more than three fifths of the people making a living from agriculture.