Monsoon covers entire nation, still 23pc deficient: IMD

New Delhi: Monsoon, the life-line of Indian agriculture, today covered the entire country but the rains are still deficient by 23 per cent, a top official of India Meteorological Department said.

The south-west monsoon had hit Kerala on June 5, but made slow progress affecting sowing of major Kharif crops such as paddy, pulses and coarse cereals.

"Rainfall situation has improved but it is still minus 23 per cent. Monsoon is covering entire country today with parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan receiving heavy rains," IMD Director General L S Rathore told reporters here.

With improvement in monsoon rains, Rathore noted that the planting of paddy, soyabean and groundnut would pick up. He, however, pointed out that scanty rains in Karnataka and Maharashtra might affect coarse cereals.

Rathore was speaking to media after attending a meeting with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Food Minister K V Thomas to discuss the progress of monsoon. "Rains will now shift to Himalayas, Terai and north east region. The 23 per cent deficit in rains is likely to continue until next week," Rathore said.

So far, he said that some parts of Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and central Madhya Pradesh have received scanty rains. India had produced a record 252.56 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2011-12 crop year (July-June) on good moonsoon last year.

Monsoon rains are crucial for agriculture sector, which contributes about 15 per cent to the country`s GDP, as only 40 per cent of the total cultivable area is under irrigation.