its edible oil and one-fifth of its pulses requirements annually and any drop in these commodities has the potential to stoke imported inflation.
Summer crops are usually sown with the arrival of monsoon rains in June and harvested from mid-September. Northwestern India — the grain bowl region that is forecast to witness the maximum shortfall in showers, at a 15% deficiency, this year — has seen a 51% drop in rainfall from the LPA so far, widening the gap with the LPA from 46% until a week earlier.
Water storage levels across the country, which was 26% higher than the level a year ago until June 12, significantly narrowed the gap to just 2% as of June 26.
The IMD had forecast that monsoon rains this year would be 93% of the LPA, with a 33% probability of deficient monsoon rains and a 70% chance of a recurrence of El Nino, which had caused the worst drought in 37 years in 2009.
The stakes are high on the monsoon as over 60% of the country's farmland is rain-fed. The June-September monsoon season, which brings about 70% of annual rains, is crucial for summer-sown crops and also boosts groundwater reserves for winter planting.
Food inflation, which has hit an annual average of 12.16% over the last five years, touched 12.76% in the last fiscal, compared with 9.89% a year before. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday sought greater coordination between the Centre and states to deal with a possible drought and asked states to crack down hard on hoarders. Echoing the sentiment, food minister Ram Vilas Paswan also said some unscrupulous elements were jacking up prices of essential commodities citing a poor monsoon.