May 18, 2018 / 10:53 AM / 7 months ago

Monsoon rains to arrive on India's southern coast on May 29

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s monsoon rains are expected to arrive on the southern Kerala coast on May 29, India’s weather office said in a statement on Friday.

The monsoon, the lifeblood of the country’s $2 trillion economy, delivers nearly 70 percent of rains that India needs to water farms and recharge reservoirs and aquifers. Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

India looks likely to receive average monsoon rains in 2018, the weather office said last month, raising the possibility of higher farm and economic growth in Asia’s third-biggest economy.

Rains usually lash Kerala state on the south coast around June 1 and cover the whole country by mid-July. Timely rains trigger planting of crops such as rice, soybeans and cotton.

The India Meteorological Department declares the arrival of monsoon rains only after parameters measuring consistency of rainfall over a defined geography, intensity, cloudiness and wind speed are satisfied.

The monsoon usually covers the half of the country in the first 15 days. The rains reach central India’s soybean areas by the third week of June and western cotton-growing areas by the first week of July.

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

Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by David Goodman

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