India’s government had predicted a normal rainy season, but this week it forecast that the overall monsoon would produce 92 percent of average rainfall, edging closer to the 90 percent mark that signals the first level of drought. More than half of India’s farmlands are not irrigated and rely wholly on rain. Skymet, a private weather forecaster, says there is a 60 percent chance of a drought.
A failed monsoon in one of the world’s biggest producers of grains and sugar could add to pressure on global food prices, with corn and soybean futures hitting record highs this month as the United States experiences its worst drought in 50 years. India’s poor rains likewise threaten yields of soybeans, corn, sugarcane and rice, monsoon-dependent crops with long germination periods. India’s agriculture ministry recently said that rice planting was down by a tenth compared to this time last year as farmers await rain.