Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rainfall Shortage at 30%: Are we heading for another drought?

A report from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) indicates there was a whopping 49% rainfall shortage for the week ended July 4 and a shortage of 30% for the season to date.

This reminds of 2009, when the IMD kept hoping the rainfall shortage in the initial part of the monsoon season would be made up in later parts. But that never happened, and finally the season ended with a 23% rainfall shortage, supposedly the worst drought since 1972. If things don’t improve soon, then 2012 could become the worst drought year in nearly 40 years.

I came across a nice story done by Akshat Kaushal last year in Business Standard titled Has India’s Met Dept failed us? Here’s what he says about the IMD’s forecast accuracy:

“The failure of the IMD to predict the monsoons correctly in 2009 was not a one-off incident. Consider this: Since 1988, in the last 23 years, the IMD has been able to successfully predict the monsoon only nine times – a success rate of just 40 per cent. Significantly, the IMD has never predicted a drought. In fact, in the last decade, the country experienced droughts on three separate occasions, and the IMD’s predictions in every one of these years pointed towards abundant or normal rain.”

However, even if there is full-fledged drought in the country this year, my analysis of last week (Rainfall Shortage: Even if there’s a drought, the impact is likely to be minimal) shows that the impact on GDP growth would be minimal.

Well, let’s see how things pan out for the monsoons over the next few weeks.