The Indian Meteorological Department announced on Friday that they expect ‘normal’ rainfall in this year’s monsoon.

India is one of the largest producers of rice, sugar, wheat and cotton in the world, and the annual rains, dubbed the ‘economic lifeline’, are essential to the livelihood of millions of people throughout the country.  

If the monsoon brings too much or too little rain, this can lead to ruin for many farmers. 2008 was one of those years with far too much rain. Crops and homes were washed away, and over 2400 people lost their lives. Just one year later, in 2009, there was the opposite problem and rains failed, leading to shrivelled crops and soaring food prices.

The announcement of ‘normal rains’ will be received with great optimism, but also caution; The Indian Meteorological Department has been wrong before. The worst forecast was in 2009, when it predicted an average monsoon, but what followed was the worst monsoon in nearly four decades.

Even with an ‘average’ amount of rain across the country as a whole, it is almost certain that some locations still will receive too much whilst other places will be crying out for more.

The monsoon rains are vitally important to millions of farmers throughout India, and are invariably a cause of great anxiety.

Source: Al Jazeera