The forecast, if it turns real, will aggravate the agriculture and rural economy that suffered last year due to a deficit monsoon (leading to droughts in several states).
IMD predicts rainfall to be 93 per cent of the long period average or LPA. LPA is average rainfall received over the last fifty year period. IMD will update its forecast in June.
The IMD classifies rainfall between 90 and 95 per cent of the LPA as below normal and less than 90 per cent as drought.
Rainfall between 96 and 104 per cent of the LPA is considered normal and between 105 and 110 per cent as above normal. Anything above 110 per cent is considered excess.
India will also pray that the private forecaster Skymet that hit headlines last year with a forecast of sub normal monsoon, is correct this year too. For the current year, Noida-based Skymet has predicted a normal monsoon with rainfall at 102 per cent of the LPA.
"I am sticking to my forecast. We had predicted a spell of unseasonal rains for March and April and it has come true. Our forecasts for last three years were closer to the actual rainfall. It will be clear by August who is right and who is wrong this time", Jatin Singh, CEO of Skymet told Business Today.
Skymet has been doing monsoon forecasting since 2012 when it predicted rainfall to be 95 per cent of the LPA and the year saw 93 per cent rainfall. In 2013, it forecast 103 per cent while the actual was 106 per cent. Last year, Skymet forecast 94 per cent and subsequently revised it to 91 per cent while the actual was 88 per cent.
Coming to IMD, its forecast of 93 per cent in 2014 was right (88 per cent actual) since these forecasts have an error margin of 5 per cent on the higher or lower side. In 2013 too, the actual rainfall of 106 per cent was closer to its forecast of 98 per cent, again taking into account the margin of 5 per cent. Its 2012 forecast was 96 per cent against an actual of 93 per cent.
But there were years when IMD has gone wrong by a sharp margin. Its forecast of 93 per cent in 2009 was followed by an actual 78 per cent. In 2007, the forecast of 93 per cent compared poorly with the actual of 106 per cent. In 2004 too, the forecast of 98 per cent stood at a sharp gap to the actual 87 per cent.
Time will tell who turns out correct this time. But a normal spell will be crucial this year. "A second straight year of weak monsoon will decrease the efficacy of India's irrigation ecosystem and hit agricultural output and farmers adversely. To add to this, unseasonal rains since early March have already had a negative impact on many crops. According to our calculations, a deficient monsoon, if it comes true, will shave off 50 basis points from our GDP forecast of 7.9 per cent for fiscal 2016," said a report from rating agency Crisil.