New Delhi: India's crucial monsoon rains are slightly delayed but not yet a worry for farming, the head of the weather office said on Thursday, after almost all parts of the country received lower than average rainfall in the first three weeks of June. The June-September rains arrived over Kerala coast four days behind the usual start date of June 1.

The monsoon rains are important for India's farm output and economic growth as about 55 percent of the south Asian nation's arable land is rain-fed, and farming contributes about 15 percent to the nearly $2-trillion economy, Asia's third-biggest.

"Overall monsoon progress is slightly behind schedule but such delays are usual," L.S. Rathore, director-general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), told journalists, adding there was no cause for concern yet.

The country has received rains 26 percent below average so far since the beginning of the season, raising concerns about the spread of rainfall.

Progress of monsoon rains in India

"If the monsoon progress was delayed by more than a week, then it would have been a cause of concern," Rathore said.

The weather office had forecast an average monsoon in 2012 before the start of the four-month long rainy season in April and is likely to give its second official monsoon forecast on Friday, Rathore said.


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