India's crucial monsoon rains are still expected to be average in 2012, the weather office said on Friday, helping to allay concerns over farm output in the major producer and consumer of food stuffs triggered by sparse rainfall in the last few weeks.
The weather office had already forecast an average monsoon in April, before the rainy season started, although with slightly heavier rains.
The Meteorological Department said in a statement that monsoon rains in 2012 would be 96 per cent of the long-term average overall, down from its April forecast of 99 per cent.
A normal or average monsoon means rainfall between 96-104 per cent of a 50-year average of 89 centimetres in total during the four-month season from June, according to India's weather office classification.
The monsoon rains are crucial for farm output and economic growth as about 55 per cent of the south Asian nation's arable land is rain-fed, and the farm sector accounts for about 15 per cent of a nearly $2-trillion economy, Asia's third-biggest.
The weather office also forecast average rains in July and August, key months for planting and maturing of crops.
July rains this year are likely to be 98 per cent of the long period average, while the rainfall in August is forecast to be 96 per cent of the average.
Rains picked up from early lows last week, but concerns remain as the monsoon is still performing below average and the rains are behind schedule particularly in the grain bowl of the north-west.
© Thomson Reuters 2012