By Ratnajyoti Dutta
NEW DELHI, March 7 (Reuters) - India may avoid a drought for
a fourth straight year as the El Nino weather system looks
unlikely to impact monsoon rains, a leading forecaster said on
Thursday, promising yet another bumper grains output in the
Asia's third-biggest economy.
El Nino was a factor in India's last severe drought in 2009
when the country had to import sugar, pushing global prices to
It is associated with warming of the sea's surface in the
Pacific Ocean and can cause widespread drought in the Indian
sub-continent that results in lower grains output for one of the
world's biggest food consumers and producers.
"El Nino is now at a neutral phase and a review about its
emergence with associated impact over the Indian sub-continent
will be done during the second half of April," D.S. Pai, the
lead forecaster of the Indian weather office, told Reuters.
The World Meteorological Organisation will review the chance
of El Nino's emergence for this year's monsoon at a regional
summit in Kathmandu, where Pai will present the Indian weather
office's maiden perspective about the annual summer rains.
"If this year's monsoon is fine, then we can produce another
record year of food grain production," Farm Minister Sharad
Pawar had said on Wednesday at a conference.
Last year, the monsoon rains avoided a widespread drought
even though the first half of the June-September rainy season
recorded deficient rainfall.
Rains below 90 percent of a 50-year average are termed
deficient by the weather office.
(Editing by Jo Winterbottom)