Business, Economics and Jobs

India: Bleak monsoon outlook adds to economic woes


An Indian farmer ploughs an agricultural field ahead of anticipated monsoon rains in Warangal, some 140 kilometers from Hyderabad, on June 26, 2012. Indian agriculture gets 60 percent of its precipitation from the rains and a bad monsoon can spell financial disaster for the country's 235 million farmers. While agriculture's share of India's economy has shrunk to 14 percent from 30 percent in the early 1990s, bountiful rains are still vital to national economic fortunes.

India's economic woes may well be growing, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh takes the helm of the finance ministry. With the first month of the four-month monsoon nearly over, rainfall has already fallen 23 percent short of the norm -- posing a serious threat to the largely agrarian economy.

Worse, the Indian meteorological department's forecast for the next two months isn't too cheery, either, reports the Indian Express. Both months are promised to deliver less than the normal amount of rain, though close to the average. So unless September delivers a deluge, it looks very unlikely that farmers will have much to work with.

And in India, that's big news.

According to Reuters, the farm sector accounts for about 15 percent of India's $2 trillion economy, while last year's rains drove a bumper rice harvest that allowed the government to lift a four-year ban on exports. 

Perhaps more importantly, India is looking to boost agricultural output, so that the government can slash farm subsidies without increasing already high food prices.

India's food inflation rose to 10.66 percent in May from 10.18 percent in April, Reuters reported.