Monsoon rains cover entire India, ahead of schedule

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s monsoon has covered the entire country, the weather office said on Friday, more than a fortnight ahead of the normal schedule in a year that is forecast to see average rains.

The revival of monsoon rains in the grain bowl of northwest and central regions should help speed up the sowing of main summer crops such as rice, corn, soybeans and cotton.

June-September monsoon delivers about 70 percent of India’s annual rainfall and are the lifeblood of its $2.5 trillion economy, spurring farm output and boosting rural spending on items ranging from gold to cars, motorcycles and refrigerators.

Monsoon rainfall was 4 percent lower than normal so far in June, but in some states such as western Gujarat the rainfall deficit was as high as 60 percent, data compiled by the state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD) showed.

India, where only half of the farmland is irrigated, is likely to get 97 percent rainfall of a long-term average in the June-September monsoon season, IMD forecast last month.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Edmund Blair