MUMBAI (Reuters) - India expects total monsoon rainfall to be average in 2013, Earth Sciences Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said on Friday, strengthening prospects one of the world's biggest grains producers will avoid widespread drought for a fourth straight year.
Monsoon rains are expected to be 98 percent of the long-term average during the June-September season, Reddy said. Rains between 96 percent and 104 percent of a 50-year average of 89 cm for the entire season are considered normal, or average.
Monsoon rains are vital for the 55 percent of the country's farmland that lacks irrigation facilities, and can make the difference between India being an exporter or importer of staples such as rice and sugar.
"We are expecting a 15 percent increase in minimum support price and the forecast of an average monsoon will not be able to completely offset that impact. Risks to food inflation remain. We think agricultural growth will be around 3.5 percent in 2013/14, and food inflation will be around 8-9 percent."
"Preliminary estimates suggest it will be normal monsoon. But we have to watch for the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall, particularly in regions where pulses and cereals are sown, regions that are in central India."
RUPA REGE NITSURE, CHIEF ECONOMIST, BANK OF BARODA, MUMBAI:
"I think farm growth on a lower statistical base should be much better than the previous financial year. Better monsoon will ease food prices. But the exact extent also depends on political factors."
"Food inflation depends also on MSP (minimum support price), and populist spending in rural areas. Supply side, this is a positive factor, and should ease prices to some extent. The real assessment is possible only in August-September."
HARISH GALIPALLI, RESEARCH HEAD, COMMODITIES, JRG WEALTH MANAGEMENT, HYDERABAD:
"Food inflation in last one year is hovering at 10-12 percent. Normal monsoon rains can ease food inflation from stubbornly high levels. It can boost grains production and allow India to maintain its position as a leading exporter in the world. Good rainfall in central India can also help in reducing imports of lentils and edible oils."
U.S. AWASTHI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, INDIAN FARMERS FERTILISER COOPERATIVE LIMITED, NEW DELHI
"Normal monsoon rains will enhance demand for fertilisers. And meeting higher demand is not difficult as the industry is carrying huge stocks from the last year. For the kharif (summer-sown crops) season we do not need imported raw material."
MUKESH KUVADIA, SECRETARY, BOMBAY SUGAR MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION, MUMBAI:
"Good rainfall can boost sugar cane plantation. Farmers are very much interested in cane due to higher prices. Normal monsoon rains will also help cane crop in drought-affected areas in southern and western states."
KUMAR JAIN, VICE CHAIRMAN, MUMBAI JEWELLERS ASSOCIATION, MUMBAI:
"The whole cycle of money depends on monsoon. If there is good agricultural production, it will benefit the whole value chain. There could be higher gold imports due to a fall in prices along with normal rains."
RAHUL JITENDRA SHAH, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ACME INTERNATIONAL LTD, AHMEDABAD
"If monsoon is evenly spread then we could see a rise in cotton production with major increase expected from Gujarat state which had poor rains last season."
"Exports are likely to remain almost near this year's level because local mill consumption is seen going up."
PRAVIN DONGRE, CHAIRMAN, INDIA PULSES AND GRAINS ASSOCIATION, MUMBAI
"As monsoon is forecast normal now the decision to plant pulses would depend on prices, which are fairly remunerative to farmers. However, soybean crop can give some competition to summer-sown pulses in Madhya Pradesh."
Reporting by Mumbai bureau; Editing by Sunil Nair