* Expert sees monsoon revival from late August
* Crops in initial growth stage need moderate rains
* Floods to ease in cane, rice areas of North India
(Writes throughout with details)
By Ratnajyoti Dutta
NEW DELHI, Aug 21 India's monsoon rains will be
weak next week, weather officials said on Thursday, giving
relief to cane- and rice-growing areas of northern and eastern
regions that were recently hit by floods.
The annual rains are vital, because over half of India's
farmlands lack irrigation, and the farm sector accounts for 14
percent of the national economy.
The monsoon is the leading determinant of rural spending on
consumer goods ranging from lipstick to cars as two-thirds of
its 1.2 billion people live in villages.
In India, the monsoon has been weak for the past two weeks,
but that is unlikely to cut output prospects for summer crops
such as rice, corn, soybean, cane and cotton, because these
crops have entered the germination stage, when less rain is
"Soybean has entered the initial growth stage when it does
not need heavy rains, but requires intermittent rains for a
healthy growth," S.K. Srivastava, head of the state-run
Directorate of Soybean Research, told Reuters over the phone
from Indore in central India.
Soybean-growing areas of central India now need rain at
"A prolonged dry spell until next week would be harmful for
the planted soybean crop," Srivastava said.
Most of the summer crops, except late-sown rice varieties in
some parts of the northwest region, have entered the growing
stage and need moderate rain to ensure good yields.
"Cane is still in good condition in Maharashtra despite the
weak monsoon, except Marathwada belt where the crop has been hit
by drought," said Raju Shetti, head of Swabhimani Shetkari
Sanghtana, a farmers' lobby group from Maharashtra, the leading
sugar producing state of India.
Weather officials forecast less rain in flood-hit areas of
North India next week, while the monsoon is expected to be poor
over the cotton and oilseed belts of western region.
"The weak phase is expected to spill over to the next week,"
said D.S. Pai, the lead forecaster of the India Meteorological
"We expect a wet run from late August to early September,"
Pai said from the western city of Pune.
Floods are expected to ease as the weather office forecast
poor rain over the northern region until the middle of next
Last week's heavy showers in the Himalayas inundated nearly
1,500 villages in northern India, killing 80 people and leaving
thousands homeless, according to the latest official updates.
An official at the National Disaster Management Authority
said there had been 10 deaths in the eastern state of Bihar due
to floods, caused by overflowing rivers in Nepal.
On Friday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh will make an aerial
review of the flood situation in the worst affected areas of
Uttar Pradesh, the top producer of cane in India, the world's
second-biggest producer after Brazil.
Experts said last week's flash floods over northern Uttar
Pradesh state could affect growth of rice and cane crops in the
But sugar output is unlikely to decline drastically despite
floods in the north and drought in western regions as production
is expected to improve in South India.
(Additional reporting by Sharat Pradhan in LUCKNOW; editing by