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India's August-September monsoon rains seen at 104% of average

A person rides a scooter through a waterlogged road during monsoon rain showers in Mumbai, India, June 4, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Monsoon rains in India are expected to be 104% of a long-term average in August and September, the weather office said on Friday, indicating bumper harvests and helping to alleviate the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Crop-nourishing monsoon rains are expected to be 97% of a long-term average in August, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a statement.

The IMD defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 88 centimeters for the entire four-month season beginning June.

Monsoon rains are critical for farm output and economic growth as about 55% of India’s arable land is rain-fed.

The farm sector employs more than half of India’s 1.3 billion population and accounts for nearly 14% of the $2.9 trillion economy, Asia’s third biggest.

Farmers plant crops such as rice, corn, cane, cotton and soybeans in the rainy months of June and July, with harvests from October.

Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Gareth Jones