India's crucial monsoon rains are expected to be average in 2017, a senior official at the weather office said on Tuesday, easing concerns over farm and economic growth in the world's leading producer of an array of agricultural goods.
Director General K J Ramesh said there would be good distribution of rainfall across the country. IMD issues another updated forecast in June.
He further added that the forecast assessment suggests 38 per cent of probability for "near normal monsoon rainfall".
It said even in case of deficit rainfalls there are instances where agri-GDP has in fact expanded and smartly grew in slightly more than normal rainfall in 2010 and 2011.
Icra's principal economist Aditi Nayar said that with expectation that monsoon rainfall would be around 96 per cent, agricultural growth could moderate from above 4 per cent in 2016-2017 to around 3.6 per cent in 2017-2018.
India's long period monsoon average is 88 cm, which means that the country as a whole is likely to receive 88 cm of rainfall between June and September. Typically, it cuts rainfall in South Asia, including India, and triggers flooding in western US and South America.
The weather agency departed from its own tradition and declined to make public the probability values for other ranges of rainfall amounts - excess, above normal, below normal, and deficient.
This year's forecast of 96 percent comes amid a continuing drought in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Ramesh said that since the El Nino was still predicted to be weak, there was greater uncertainty in assessing its impact on the monsoon.
Several parts of these states are now facing drought-like situation, and if good rainfall continue to elude these regions, the problems are likely to exacerbate.
The normal monsoon past year aided a rebound in agriculture growth to 4.2 per cent (2016-17), after a dismal 1.2 per cent increase and a 0.2 per cent contraction seen in 2015-16 and 2014-15, respectively.
Rain was 97 percent of a 50-year average last year, meeting the department's definition of a normal monsoon.
"But there is no one-to-one relationship between El Nino and the monsoon", said D. Sivananda Pai, head of the forecasting team at IMD Pune. The El Niño was blamed for the drought in 2014 and 2015.
The actual status of the overall rainfall in India would however depends on the future status of "El Nino" and 'Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)' activities.