India is headed for its driest August in more than a century, with scant rainfall over large areas partly due to an El Nino weather pattern, two meteorological officials told Reuters on Friday.

August rains, expected to be the lowest since records began in 1901, could reduce yields of summer-sown crops from rice to soybeans, pushing up prices and overall food inflation, which is set to peak in January. It has become the highest in July since 2020. The monsoon, vital to the $3 trillion economy, provides about 70% of the rain India needs to water farms and replenish reservoirs and aquifers. A senior India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said on condition of anonymity, “The monsoon is not reviving as we had expected.”

“We’re going to end the month with significant reductions in the southern, western and central parts.”

He said, based on the rainfall so far and expectations for the rest of the month, India is likely to receive less than 180 mm (7 inches) of average rainfall this month. The Met officials are expected to announce the quantum of rainfall in August and forecast for September on August 31 or September 1.

India received just 90.7 mm (3.6 in) of rain in the first 17 days of August, about 40% less than normal. The normal average for the month is 254.9 mm (10 inches), he said.

first published: 18 August 2023 | 11:04 PM First

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