| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI The deficit in monsoon rains is expected to narrow next week as the grain bowl in India's northwest, oilseed areas of central parts and cotton belt of the western region are set to get higher downpours.
The monsoon rains were 15 percent below average in the past week, against 41 percent below average rainfall in the previous week, the weather office data showed.
On Thursday, the annual rains covered the entire country two days later than schedule. Last year, monsoon covered the country almost a month ahead of schedule, helping grain output hit a record level.
Rains are vital to India's farm sector, which accounts for about 14 percent of the country's nearly $2 trillion economy. Two-thirds of its 1.2 billion population live in rural areas.
The late revival of monsoon after six straight weeks of poor rains should speed up plantings of main summer crops such as rice, corn, cane, soybean and cotton.
"This active phase is likely to continue for next ten days," said B.P. Yadav, head of the National Weather Forecasting Centre at the India Meteorological Department.
Poor rains since the start of the June-September season had raised concerns that India would face its first drought in five years with coverage for most of the main crops slipping below their half way marks.
The predicted wet run in monsoon should improve the level of water in reservoirs that is important for drinking purposes, hydro power generation and irrigation.