NEW DELHI India’s weather office on Thursday stuck to its initial forecast for above average monsoon rains in 2016, boosting hopes for a revival in farm output which could translate into lower food prices and also lower interest rates.

The June-September monsoon rains would be 106 percent of a long-term average, the chief of the Indian weather office said, in the second forecast for the four-month long season.

Monsoon showers, which typically start from June 1 and cover the entire country by the middle of July, would arrive slightly late this year but crop sowing would not be delayed, the weather office said last month.

“Conditions are congenial for the arrival of monsoon in the next 4-5 days,” Laxman Singh Rathore, the chief of India’s meteorological department, said at a news conference.

The annual June-September monsoon rains hit the coast in India’s southern Kerala state first before progressing to other parts of the country.

Although agriculture accounts for about 15 percent of the country’s $2 trillion economy, about two-thirds of its 1.3 billion people depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan in April said he was closely watching inflation developments as well as monsoon rain forecasts in terms of the impact on monetary policy.

The central bank has set a target to reduce inflation to 5 percent by March 2017 and to 4.2 percent by March 2018.

(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj and Sankalp Phartiyal. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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India sticks with above normal monsoon forecast
| Reuters