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 and northeastern India (Map, bottom right). Kerala state still shows overall drier than normal. The map on the bottom shows the Precipitation over Potential Evapotranspiration (P/PET) that is a index 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. The monsoon storms have also turned deadly – killing over 30 people in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Forecast Rainfall Patterns
The monsoon has now arrived in Delhi, which is earlier than normal and possibly attributed to the cyclonic circulation earlier this week according to IMD. The forecast for the next 7 days is still showing drier than normal conditions in Kerala and southern India while more rainfall than normal is expected across central states. Deviations from normal rainfall challenge farmers as key operations like when and what to plant are based on expected rain and the rainy season onset. Weather also drives pest and disease risk and information on these challenges (i.e. a forecast) offers a sure way to boost productivity.
Rainfall deviations from ‘normal’ are shown on the right map and as the season progresses, specific thresholds of too little rain can trigger recommendations like relief irrigation to bridge gaps in rainfall that would otherwise impact crop health.
Regional Highlight: Northeastern India
Observed rainfall has been much lower than normal during the past 30 days across northeastern India (map, below left). The rain in the forecast (map, bottom right), reflects how the monsoon is beginning to unfold over West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, and Meghalaya. IMD has issued warnings over much of this area due to heavy expected rainfall in parts of this region.
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.
Weather Variability and Trends
These charts show the variability at the coordinate (latitude/longitude) level from year to year for the monsoon season for key agricultural variables: precipitation, precipitation/potential evapotranspiration, minimum temperature and maximum temperature. This location is becoming drier and hotter which point to the urgent need to create ecology-based cropping systems and watershed management for sustainable food systems in India.
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.