In this State of the Economy podcast, Dr B K Singh, Director BKC Aggregators Pvt Ltd and ex-Founder SKYMET and businessline’s Subramani Ra Mancombu discuss the outlook for the current Kharif season in India, following a challenging period of drought and dry conditions due to El Niño from June 2023 to May 2024.  

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasts above-normal rainfall, and international agencies predict La Niña, which could bring abundant rains to India, though low reservoir levels remain a concern. 

Dr. Singh highlights that the monsoon is expected to be irregular. The forecast indicates normal rainfall in Western India, covering Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, and Karnataka, while deficits are expected in the eastern regions such as Orissa and Jharkhand, and parts of Madhya Pradesh. The monsoon’s distribution might improve from July to September in the southern and western regions, but deficits could persist in the east. This irregular pattern could pose challenges for farmers during critical periods of crop growth. 

Paddy sowing has already begun, and Dr. Singh expects a good crop this year, despite initial challenges in transplantation in regions like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and parts of Madhya Pradesh due to expected rainfall deficits. Cotton, groundnut, and maize are anticipated to benefit from the favourable rainfall patterns. However, soybeans might face issues due to irregular rainfall in Madhya Pradesh, which is crucial during the post-sowing germination and grain formation stages. 

Reservoir levels, particularly in the southern region, are currently low, posing a threat to water availability for both drinking and agricultural purposes. The storage capacity utilisation is notably low, with southern reservoirs at only 13 per cent capacity. Dr. Singh anticipates good rainfall in the catchment areas from July to September will help replenish these reservoirs, mitigating some of the current shortages by August. 

Despite rising input costs, particularly in northern India, farmers are likely to continue cultivating cotton due to good prices. Dr. Singh is optimistic about the cotton scenario, particularly in regions like Punjab and southern India. He also hopes that the government will allow free export of rice to ensure better returns for farmers.

(Host: Subramani Ra Mancombu, Producer:Anjana PV)

About the State of the Economy podcast 

India’s economy has been hailed as a bright spot amid the general gloom that seems to have enveloped the rest of the world. But several sectors continue to stutter even as others seem set to fire on all cylinders. To help you make sense of the bundle of contradictions that the country is, businessline brings you podcasts with experts ranging from finance and marketing to technology and start-ups.