NEW DEHLI: India's monsoon rains are now expected to be deficient in 2012, the weather office said on Thursday, signalling the first drought in three years as the El Nino weather pattern should reduce rains in the second half of the June to September season.
The India Meteoroglogical Department (IMD) was updating its earlier forecast for a normal monsoon -- with rains at 96 percent of averages after a summit of ministers met earlier this week to discuss the drought situation.
The government had already scaled that forecast down last week to below average and launched contingency plans including ensuring extra supplies of seeds and fodder.
India, one of the world's largest producers and consumers of food stuffs with a population of 1.2 billion, last suffered a drought in 2009 when it had to import sugar, pushing global prices higher.
Rains are considered deficient -- a drought in layman's terms -- if they fall below 90 percent of a 50-year average. AGENCIES