May 25, 2016 (LBO) - India may have the highest monsoon rainfall in 22 years with La Nina on the cards, according to a private weather forecaster, boosting agricultural production and easing a shortage of drinking water. Although the prediction by Skymet Weather Services Pvt., a New Delhi-based private forecaster, is higher than the forecast by state-run India Meteorological Department, the official forecast too is for a strong rainfall this year, Bloomberg reported. Sri Lanka's Department of Metereology, when contacted by Lanka Business Online, said they expect the usual monsoon rainfall, and private forecasts could be unreliable. The precipitation during the four-month rainy season starting in June is seen at 109 percent of the average of about 89 centimeters (35 inches), more than the 105 percent predicted in April, Skymet Weather Services Pvt., a New Delhi-based private forecaster, said on its website on Tuesday. The forecast has a margin of error of 4 percent. That’s a little more than the 106 percent estimated by the state-run India Meteorological Department. La Nina, is a cooling of the tropical Pacific sometimes thought of as El Nino’s opposite. La Nina typically brings more rain to parts of Asia, including India. Based on 26 El Nino events since 1900, about 50 percent have been followed by a neutral year with 40 percent by La Nina, according to Australia's Bureau of Metereology. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is counting on a normal monsoon to sustain economic growth and contain food costs after the lowest rainfall since 2009 hurt rice, corn, sugar-cane and oilseed crops last year. The monsoon affects both summer and winter crop sowing in India, and waters more than half of all farmland.
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Rainfall was 14 percent below a 50-year average in 2015, following a 12 percent shortfall in 2014, data from the meteorological department show. Rains will arrive in Kerala on June 7 compared with the normal onset date of June 1, according to the weather office.
The area under various monsoon-sown grain crops is set to increase by as much as 20 percent, boosting production to around 129 million tons to 130 million tons, Skymet said. The country produced 124 million tons of food grain during the rainy season in 2015, according to farm ministry data. Planting of soybeans, peanuts, pulses may climb while the area under cotton will probably reduce marginally, and the area under sugar cane may remain the same as previous year, Skymet said.