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India Monsoon Case Study: June 15, 2020

This case study series includes weekly reviews of the monsoon season as it unfolds across India. The 4 month monsoon, [June-September] accounts for 75% of rainfall in India. Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation, depends on annual June-September rains to grow crops such as rice, maize, sugarcane, cotton, soybeans, pulses and vegetables. 

Observed Rainfall Patterns

The last 30 days have been drier than expected in southern India (bottom right).  Kerala state shows a few areas of high rainfall but overall drier than normal. The map to the left shows the Precipitation over Potential Evapotranspiration (P/PET) that is a measure of water availability for crop production with a value of 1.0 or more being suitable for most crops while a value of 0.8 are 0.65 are critical threshold for maize and millets, respectively. Adapting to increased rainfall variability through modern watershed management practices is key towards doubling farmer incomes and ensuring nutritional security in India that requires rainfall analytics to inform strategic investments. 

Forecast Rainfall Patterns

The south-west monsoon arrived right on time according to (IMD); rainfall forecast (map left) shows the rain-shadow created by the hill country in Kerala state (circled area in left map).  The forecast for the next 7 days is showing drier than normal conditions in Kerala and southern India while more rainfall than normal is expected across central states. Deviations from normal rainfall patterns pose a particular challenge to farmers who need accurate local rainfall data to inform farm operations such as when and what to plant as well as the risk of pests and diseases with weather data is coupled to scientific models. Rainfall deviations from ‘normal’ is shown on the right and offers a key insight into where relief irrigation is likely to be needed in 2020.

Regional Highlight: Southern India

Observed rainfall has been lower than normal during the past 30 days across southern India (map left). Onset of the monsoon points to precipitation along the south-western coast in Kerala and Karnataka (map right). East of the Kerala hills, this area is drier than normal and may be a signal pointing to the potential need to shift cropping systems to reflect lower rainfall than the long-term average of 2006-2019 (observed and forecast).

Increased rainfall variability due to climate change point to the urgent need for farmers to have access to accurate local weather data. This would empower farmers to make informed operational decisions to reduce risk and maximize profitability.


aWhere’s localized, daily weather data can help governments get ahead of weather events by looking at historical trends coupled with weather forecasts.  Indian farmers need in-time weather-based insights to make informed crop management decisions to increase productivity, profitability and resilience.  Fortunately, the tools and partnerships  now exist to address this knowledge gap – today. 

Please contact us for more information on partnering to build a brighter future for farmers in India.