The Monsoon season started a week ahead of schedule in parts of India, bringing hope to millions of farmers who depend on the rains for their livelihood, easing concerns over southwestern regions hit by drought.

The June to September monsoon is crucial for farm output and economic growth in India, where just over half of arable land is rain-fed.

The farm sector makes up about 15 percent of the nearly $2 trillion economy that is Asia's third-biggest.

A farmer in Aurangabad district of India's western Maharashtra state, Raju, pinned high hopes on good rainfall.

"The rainfall has started and we hope that the rains continue and the weather remains the same. We will incur loss if we have to as the government has not provided us any financial assistance. Every time they make false promises," said Raju.

Adequate monsoon rain should help the economy and hold down inflation, a critical concern for India's coalition government as it readies for a round of state polls this year and a national election by May 2014.

"On 1st of June we had good rains. The summer was very severe. In spite of it we had nearly 30 centimetres of rain on an average during the last 10 days. This is definitely good for the agriculture in general because there has not been much interruption after rains started," said Manchi Srinivas Achar, president of the All India Areca Growers Association.

Heavier than normal rains can trigger flooding but at this stage, in the June to September season, they spur planting of crops.

India's biggest concern is drought during a monsoon, with rains crucial for the 55 percent of farmland without irrigation.

The country is one of the world's biggest producers and consumers of rice, sugar and other food agricultural commodities.

Source: Reuters