India's annual monsoon, crucial for farm output and economic growth, has rapidly advanced to cover the entire country, spurring crop sowing and alleviating the economic damage caused by a nationwide lockdown to stem the coronavirus.
"The southwest monsoon has further advanced into the remaining parts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab (states) and thus it has covered the entire country today, June 26," the state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a statement on Friday.
The monsoon has covered the entire country nearly two weeks earlier than usual, brightening prospects for healthy summer-sown crops and promising higher incomes in the countryside where most Indians live. The farm sector employs more than half of the country's 1.3 billion population and accounts for nearly 15% of India's $2.9 trillion economy.
A low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal and a cyclonic circulation over central India helped the monsoon cover the entire country earlier than expected, the IMD said. The normal date for this is July 15, and in 2013 seasonal rains covered India on June 16, the IMD said.
Since then annual rains have either covered India around June 15 or later than expected. Monsoon rains arrived on the southernmost Kerala coast on June 1. The Monsoon delivers about 70% of India's annual rainfall and waters nearly half of the country's farmland that lacks irrigation.
India is likely to receive above average monsoon rains for the second straight year in 2020, the IMD said in its revised forecast on June 1. IMD defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 88 cm for the entire four-month season. Farmers plant crops such as rice, corn, cane, cotton and soybeans in the rainy months of June and July, with harvests from October.