Forecasts for an above-average monsoon season, after two consecutive years of disappointing monsoon activity, has led to bold forecasts by the Indian government for 2016/17 foodgrains production. Total production is estimated at 270.10 million metric tons for 2016/17, 17.87 mmt or 7% higher than forecast for 2015/16 when compared against the current 3rd Advance Estimates which were released May 9.
The estimates follow favorable forecasts for the 2016 monsoon season, which is expected to bring above-average precipitation and possibly even the most in decades as the impacts from the recent El Nino event fade. On April, the Indian Meteorological Department called for the monsoon to bring moisture totaling 106% of the Long-Term Average (LTA). This week, an Indian-based private forecaster Skymet Weather Services released a forecast calling for the monsoon to deliver 109% of its long-term average in the June through September period, up from their forecast of 105% in April. Given this scenario, moisture received could be the highest seen since 1994. It's also interesting to note that above 110% of the LTA, monsoon rains are viewed as excessive.
This forecast comes after rainfall received in 2014 was 88% of the LTA while 86% of the LTA in 2015. Given reports this week that the El Nino event has now ended, a potential move into a La Nina event is viewed as favorable for India.
Not only is the 2016 monsoon event expected to bring additional moisture this season, it is also forecast to be early. Thursday's DTN forecasts show heavy rains hitting areas near southern India which is slightly ahead of normal, suggesting this will lead to increased confidence and early planting.
Indian media reports stress the overall importance of the monsoon season to the country's overall economy, indicating that agriculture generates 15% of the economy's economic activity and employs 60% of the population, while 60% of the country's land based is not irrigated.
This week's forecast also included a 20.75 mmt target for the country's pulse production. This would reflect a 21.6% jump in production over the past year which sounds like a stretch, although the year over year increase in production from 2009/10 to 2010/11 achieved a 24.4% increase, which also corresponded to an El Nino event with India said to face the worst drought in 2009 seen in 40 years. The targeted 20.75 mmt is well-above the 17.06 mmt production in 2015 and the 10-year average of 16.5 mmt.
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