On the heels of deficient pre-monsoon rains for India, an already delayed monsoon may have been further slowed and weakened by the now-dissipated Cyclone Vayu. As of most recent reporting by the India Meteorological Department (colloquially, “Met”), the monsoon has reached less than 15 percent of the country. Normally, around two-thirds of the country would have already seen the start of monsoon rains. For the first half of June, monsoon rains have been down 44 percent from average.
Dry conditions may lower cane yields and by lowering fodder availability drive higher cane diversion for feed. More broadly, delayed monsoon rains will also delay planting of summer crops, raise food prices, and pressure overall economic growth.
The delay in rains is not just an issue for agriculture—such as the sugarcane crop—but for the everyday lives of urban and rural Indians. India’s sixth-largest city, Chennai, is reportedly running completely out of water, with reservoirs dry, schools and restaurants closing, and businesses asking employees to work from home. Authorities are scrambling to find and distribute water to citizens: Deeper wells might offer some relief, but desalination plants under discussion will not help much in the current crisis. Several other major cities have also turned to rationing.