New Delhi: Monsoon rains continued below average in the past week, the weather office said on Thursday, keeping much of India's rain-fed areas still thirsty halfway through the June to September season.
Monsoon rains were 20 per cent below average in the week to July 25 after a 22 per cent shortfall the previous week.
But the rains improved over rice and soybean growing areas of eastern and central India, data published on the weather office's website showed.
Expert ministers on drought will meet next week, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said, and the government has launched contingency plans to cope with the lack of crucial rains.
Monsoon rains so far are 22 per cent below average for the four-month long rainy season that began in June, but the chief of the weather office still expects the rains will improve in coming days, narrowing the shortfall.
As much of India continues to wait for this year's elusive monsoon, plans are afoot from both the government and farmers to keep crop loss to a minimum and save one of the world's biggest food consumers from having to buy heavily on global markets.