NEW DELHI, India – Annual monsoon rains, crucial to India's economy, covered the country on Wednesday (July 11th) but remained 23% below average, sparking fears of their impact on two cereal-producing states, AFP reported.
"The monsoon is covering the entire country today with parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan (states) receiving heavy rains," India's chief meteorologist L. S. Rathore told reporters in New Delhi.
The monsoon arrived four days late in the southern state of Kerala in June and has been patchy as it progresses to food-bowl states in north India.
"It is still minus-23% (of the normal rainfall average)," Rathore said, adding that the precipitation shortfall was likely to "continue until next week".
The spread of the rains is likely to speed up the sowing of staple paddy and cash crops such as soybean and groundnut, Rathore said.
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters separately that the national "rainfall situation is definitely improving vis-a-vis 10 days back".
But Pawar said there were fears that the uneven spread of the rains could hit cereal production in the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra.