NEW DELHI, June 1 (Reuters) - India's crucial monsoon arrived on cue in Kerala on the southern coast on Saturday, a top weather official said, boosting prospects for farm output and alleviating concerns of further suffering for key cotton and sugar growing areas hit by drought.
"The monsoon has arrived in Kerala and the large parts of adjoining Tamil Nadu," L. S. Rathore, director general of the state-run India Meteorological Department, told Reuters, referring to the two southern states.
The rains, which run from June to September, are vital for the 55 percent of farmland without irrigation in India, one of the world's largest producers and consumers of food. Seven southern and western states hit by drought last year need plentiful and timely rains to help a recovery.
India's weather office last month predicted the monsoon would arrive over Kerala on June 3, give or take four days, a timeframe treated as normal and allowing farmers to plant crops such as rice, soybean and cotton on time.
Last year, the monsoon hit Kerala four days after the June 1 date forecast. But overall rains in the season were just 8 percent below normal, ensuring a bumper harvest of rice, enough cotton to support exports and sugar output exceeding demand.
Adequate rains in the season could help the rural economy and keep inflation subdued, as India's coalition government prepares for a round of state polls this year and a national election by May 2014. (Reporting by Ratnajyoti Dutta; editing by Mayank Bhardwaj)