Despite increased chances of the monsoon rains this year to be a tad below normal Also, higher water reserves in key reservoirs across the country could help the next rabi (winter) crop. As on Friday, kharif sowing area was down just 1.8% from the year-ago period, from a wider gap of 7.5% prevailing a week earlier. Among major crops, sowing areas for paddy, pulses and cotton are now just 4% below the levels a year ago compared with 12%, 9% and 8%, respectively, a week ago, but the area under oilseeds is now 6% higher than a year ago, a marked improvement from down 1% last week. Government officials are relieved on the recovery in area under tur, which is now 1.3% higher than year-ago level. The pulses area may match last year Urad area has declined 11.28% so far in the ongoing sowing season. India last year produced record 24.5 million tonne of pulses on an increased area of 288.3 lakh hectares. Quantitatively, the rainfall for the country as a whole during the second half of the season is likely to be 95% of LPA with a model error of plus or minus 8%, The rainfall was 94% of LPA in the critical June-July period. The distribution of rains was good in most parts of the country key to kharif performance, barring Bihar, Jharkhand and North-East. This time the real issue to look for is whether market prices of crops will also increase in tandem with the hike in MSPs, The deficiency is high only in Bihar, Jharkhand and north-eastern region while other parts have received very good rains, The El-Nino was the only concern since Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is neutral, he said, adding other factors such as frequent emergence of low pressure are helping the monsoon. CARE Ratings wrote: Amongst the regions receiving deficient rainfall, Rayalseema received the lowest rainfall which was 43% below normal. The north-eastern regions continue to be affected by a deficient rainfall, as the monsoon winds progress towards the north central belt. East and west Uttar Pradesh regions have begun to receive normal rainfall, unlike last week. However, Bihar and Jharkhand continues to receive deficient rainfall.5% of LPA. During the four-month monsoon season, rains in the range of 96-104% of the LPA of 89 cm is considered normal while 90-96% shower of the LPA is categorised as In May, the weather bureau had predicted 97% of LPA for the whole of the season. Private forecaster Skymet Weather on August 1 lowered its seasonal monsoon forecast to 92% of the LPA from 100%, announced in April. It has cited the continuing warming of the sea surface in the Pacific Ocean as an important factor for downgrading its forecast.