By Ratnajyoti Dutta ~ Reuters
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's monsoon rains may ease again next week after heavy downpours for nearly a month, weather experts said on Thursday, bringing relief to flood-hit areas and giving room to speed up planting of summer crops such as rice, soybean and cotton.
Rains were three percent above average in the week that ended on June 26, data from the weather office on Thursday showed, after the monsoon poured 54 percent more than average rains on the sub-continent in the first three weeks from June 1.
The rains caused fatal flooding in northern India and forced tens of thousands from their homes, prompting a massive relief and rescue effort.
But the monsoon remains crucial for the 55 percent of the country's farmland that relies on it for irrigation to grow crops. India is one of the world's biggest producers of cereals and sugar, but also has one of the largest populations to feed. ...more