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    Monsoon onset over Kerala likely by May 31: IMD

    New Delhi: India's annual monsoon rains are likely to keep their date with Kerala bringing showers to the mainland by May 31, which has raised hopes for a normal season.

    The weather office has forecast normal rainfall for the second consecutive year and farmers are looking forward for a steady progress of the season that could help them have a bumper crop.

    Director, Metrological Department B P Yadav said, "The monsoons will arrive on time, hitting the Kerala coast on 31st May. A normal monsoon is expected this year."

    With summer at its peak and scorching heat outside, some good news for the farmers and others waiting for rains.

    Weather scientists have been using an indigenously developed statistical model since 2005 for issuing operational forecasts for the monsoon onset over Kerala. The model has an error of plus or minus four days.

    They believe that the monsoon onset over Kerala could be earlier than May 31. Usually, south-west monsoon sets in over Andaman Sea by May 15. This has not been the case this year.

    However, IMD said that past data suggest absence of any one-to-one association between the date of monsoon advance over Andaman Sea and the date of onset over Kerala.

    On April 19, IMD had forecast normal monsoon with the country receiving 98 per cent rainfall of the long period average (LPA). The LPA is the average rainfall over the past 50 years, which is 89 cm.

    After the 2009 drought, the country witnessed a record foodgrain produce of over 235.88 million tonnes last year when monsoon was normal.

    Economists believe that India can increase its foodgrain production by seven to eight million tonnes if the monsoon rains are normal.

    According to their estimates rice output could go up to 100 million tonnes in 2011-12 crop year from 94 million tones the previous year.

    (With additional inputs from PTI)