India's crucial southwest monsoon rains have arrived on time in the coastal state of Kerala.

The arrival of the monsoon on Saturday came much to the relief of the region's farmers who can now expect a bumper crop season, locals said.

"We are hoping for good rains so that the water shortage we used to face will cease naturally. We need more rain because most of the diseases caused by heat used to affect us," said local resident Janardhanan.

"Now that we are getting the rains, diseases will come to an end. Scientists have also said that we will get plenty of rains in the coming days."

The southwest monsoon is usually active every year from June to September.

We got rain in the first week of June so definitely there will be more crops. There will be floods and the dams
will be filled, and there will be no water problems at all.

Madhavan, resident

India, one of the world's largest producers and consumers of food crops, relies on rainwater to irrigate 55 percent of its farmland.

Seven southern and western states were hit by drought last year and are in desperate need of plentiful and timely rains to aid a recovery.

Earlier in May, the Indian Meteorological Department predicted that the monsoon would arrive over Kerala around June 3.

The prediction is vital for farmers who need to plant crops such as rice and soya bean on time.

The downpour on Saturday over Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala state, came as a delight for locals.

According to estimates by the meteorological observatory, monsoon will gradually move to cover the entire country by mid-July.

Last year, the monsoon hit Kerala on June 4, but the overall rains in the season were just eight percent below normal levels.

"We got rain in the first week of June so definitely there will be more crops. There will be floods and the dams
will be filled, and there will be no water problems at all," said Madhavan, another resident of Thiruvanthapuram.

Adequate rains could help the rural economy and keep inflation subdued, as India's coalition government prepares
for a round of state polls this year and a national election by May 2014.

Source: Agencies