New Delhi: With meteorological department forecasting a normal monsoon this year, the government can breathe easy as it would get a helping hand in containing food and overall inflation, which is still above the comfort level.

The country's agriculture sector, which is 60 percent dependent on rains, will also be able to grow at the above-3 percent level forecasted by economists. This would to be a breather for farmers and common people as well.

“IMD's long range forecast for the 2011 southwest monsoon season (June-September) is that the rainfall for the country as a whole is most likely to be normal which is 96 to 104 per cent of the long period average,” said Science and Technology Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the factors affecting southwest monsoon seem to be normal as of now. IMD will update the monsoon forecast in June as part of the second stage forecast.

Along with the updated forecast, separate forecasts for the monthly (July and August) rainfall over the country as a whole and seasonal (June-September) rainfall over the four geographical regions of India will also be issued.

When asked about the expected dates of onset of monsoon, Bansal said, “It is too early to say anything but normally, the southwest monsoon onsets on Kerala on June 1 and reaches the (national) capital by June 29.”

“The temperature gradient is not building up as of now but temperature is expected to rise in the coming days,” said IMD director general Ajit Tyagi while replying to a question about the unusually cool April this year.

Though, food inflation has declined successively for three weeks, it still remains on the higher side at 8.28 percent as recorded for the week ending April 2. However the annual rate of inflation rose to 8.98 percent in March.

Higher levels of food inflation tend to spread to other items, making overall prices go up. Hence a normal monsoon brings relief to policymakers and farmers alike.