(Bloomberg) -- India maintained its prediction for an above-normal monsoon, boosting prospects for crops such as rice, soybeans and cotton in a country where rain is the main source of irrigation for almost half of the farmland.

Precipitation in the June-September season is likely to be 106% of a long-term average, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the India Meteorological Department, said at a press briefing in New Delhi Monday. The latest forecast, which matched its projection in April, has a margin of error of 4%, he said. 

The monsoon is vital for the South Asian nation’s economy as almost half of the population depends on agriculture and allied activities for their livelihood. The annual pattern determines supplies of farm goods and affects food prices that climbed to a four-month high in April. There are expectations that favorable weather may also prompt the government to ease curbs on exports of wheat, rice and sugar. 

The outlook is crucial for farmers this year, especially after India witnessed its weakest monsoon in five years in 2023. Prospects for plantings in the winter period, that generally begins in October, will also improve as water levels in about 150 major reservoirs across the country may rise.   

The IMD said that the El Niño pattern, which tends to reduce precipitation in the four-month period, may gradually weaken. The probability of La Niña, which normally brings more rain to parts of Asia, developing in June-August is 49%, while the chance is 69% during July-September, Mohapatra said. 

More From the IMD:

  • Below-normal rains seen in the northeastern region, normal in the northwest, and above-normal in central and some southern areas during the June-September season
  • Showers across the country are likely to be normal in June
  • The maximum temperature is likely to be normal to above-normal in parts of India next month
  • Above-normal heat wave days are likely in parts of northwestern and central regions in June

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