India's annual monsoon season came early this year, killing at least 13 people and stranding about 30,000 pilgrims in the Kedarnath valley as bridges and roads were swept away by the rain.
Rain blanketed all of India on Sunday, marking the earliest date the torrential showers have covered the country in 52 years. Though destructive, the early rain could actually benefit India's 235 million farmers.
“Early rainfall augurs well for all rain-fed crops including soybean, cotton, sugar cane, rice, corn,” P. Chengal Reddy, secretary general of the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association, told Bloomberg news.
“Early and more than normal rains will recharge the groundwater and help farmers who are dependent on irrigation,” Reddy added.
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The rain, which brought floods and deadly landslides, has also helped mitigate a severe drought that put crops in danger and caused a drinking water shortage in India's western region.
Laxman Singh Rathore, director general of India's Meteorological Department, said Friday that the monsoon's early arrival could allow farmers to plant early and possibly improve their production.
"Whenever there is timely sowing, we have seen that the production is good. Particularly with respect to drought-hit regions of 2012, the semi-arid corridor which produces coarse cereals — there has been early sowing," he said.
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