April 16, 2018 / 10:23 AM / 8 months ago

India's weather office forecasts average monsoon rains in 2018

NEW DELHI, April 16 (Reuters) - India is likely to receive average monsoon rains in 2018, the weather office said, raising the possibility of higher farm and economic growth in Asia’s third-biggest economy, where half of the farmland lacks irrigation.

Monsoon rains, the lifeblood of the country’s $2 trillion economy, are expected to be 97 percent of a long-term average, K.J. Ramesh, director general of the state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD), told a news conference.

Other than lifting farm and wider economic growth, a wet spell will keep a lid on inflation, potentially tempting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring forward general elections due in May 2019.

India’s weather office defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96 percent and 104 percent of a 50-year average of 89 cms for the entire four-month season beginning June. (Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan and Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Malini Menon)

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