India's monsoon rain below average for fifth straight week

A man rides a motorcycle through a water-logged street during heavy rains in Mumbai, India, July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s monsoon rains in the week ending on Wednesday were below average for the fifth time in a row, although the deficit was the lowest since the start of the season, after it revived in central and western regions.

Monsoon rains are crucial for farm output and economic growth, as about 55% of India’s arable land is rain-fed, and agriculture forms about 15% of a $2.5-trillion economy that is the third biggest in Asia.

India received 6% less rainfall than the 50-year average in the week ended on July 3, data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) showed.

Soybean- and cotton-growing central regions received 43 percent more rainfall in the week, while the rubber- and tea-growing southern state of Kerala got 87 percent lower rainfall.

India has received rain that is 28 percent less than average since the monsoon season began on June 1.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav