In a continuation of a concerning trend, the monsoon in India has once again exhibited a delayed withdrawal for the 13th consecutive year. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) reported that the southwest monsoon began its retreat on Monday, 25 September, a full eight days behind the usual withdrawal date of September 17.
Withdrawal Commences in Southwest Rajasthan
The official statement from the IMD indicated that the southwest monsoon initiated its retreat from parts of southwest Rajasthan on September 25, 2023. This departure from the norm has raised concerns, as the late retreat of the monsoon can have far-reaching consequences for various sectors in India.
Implications for Agriculture
The delayed monsoon retreat holds significant implications for India’s agricultural sector, particularly in northwest India. The monsoon’s withdrawal from this region typically marks the start of the Rabi crop season. Any delay in the retreat extends the rainy season, which can impact crop planning and agricultural production.
Monsoon Timelines in India
Traditionally, the southwest monsoon enters Kerala by June 1 and covers the entire country by July 8. It usually starts retreating from northwest India around September 17 and completes its withdrawal by October 15. The monsoon season officially concludes on September 30.
IMD’s Assessment of Rainfall
According to the IMD, the country has experienced a 6% deficiency in seasonal rainfall this year. Notably, there is a 19% rainfall shortfall in east and northeast India, a 1% deficit in central India, and a 10% deficiency in peninsular India. In contrast, northwest India has seen a 2% excess in rainfall.
The IMD categorizes monsoon rainfall as follows:
- 90 to 95% of Long Period Average (LPA): “Below normal”
- Less than 90% of LPA: “Deficient”
- 96 to 104% of LPA: “Normal”
Factors Influencing Monsoon Retreat
The IMD attributes the delayed monsoon retreat to specific meteorological conditions. An anti-cyclonic flow developing over northwest India at lower tropospheric levels, combined with dry weather in parts of southwest Rajasthan, has created favorable conditions for the monsoon’s withdrawal.
Monsoon’s Significance for India
The monsoon is a critical component of India’s economy, with 51% of the country’s farmed area, responsible for 40% of production, relying on rain-fed agriculture. Additionally, approximately 47% of India’s population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods.