Monsoon Crystal Ball: How Rainfall Forecasts Shape Agricultural Commodity Markets

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Monsoon Crystal Ball: How Rainfall Forecasts Shape Agricultural Commodity Markets

As India grapples with an increasing frequency of climate crises, from scorching heat waves to erratic monsoons and devastating floods, the implications for the nation's macroeconomic landscape and societal well-being are not only profound. A recent report highlighted that the country's retail inflation soared to a 15-month high of 7.44% in July, with food price inflation hitting a staggering 11.5%, the highest level in more than three-and-a-half years. These numbers underscore the critical role that climate, particularly the monsoons, plays in shaping India's agricultural commodity markets.

Amidst these environmental challenges, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has declared the period 2015 to 2022 to be the warmest on record. The persistence of annual global temperatures exceeding 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels for the eighth consecutive year underscores the inexorable impact of rising concentrations of greenhouse gases and stored heat. Despite the occasional cooling effects of La Niña, Earth's temperature remains on an alarming upward trajectory.

The month of August witnessed an unusual trend, following a remarkably wet July to become the driest month since 1901. This climate shift is expected to reverberate through agricultural markets, affecting commodities such as soybean oil, sugar, rice, wheat , cotton and others. The lag effect resulting from the lack of precipitation is expected to partially affect the dynamics of these markets, which may lead to upward trends.

A case in point is the state of Jharkhand, where farmers are facing a staggering 37% deficit in rainfall during the 2023 monsoon season. Till August 20, the state has received just 422.7 mm of rainfall, well below the average of 689.8 mm. . This lack of rainfall not only challenges the region's agricultural production, but also has cascading effects on the wider supply chain. The situation is further complicated by the mysterious El Niño phenomenon. This periodic warming of the South Pacific Ocean has a far-reaching impact on global weather patterns, but its exact occurrence is still difficult to predict. The unpredictable nature of El Niño adds another layer of uncertainty to monsoon forecasts and, consequently, to commodity markets closely linked to agricultural production.

In addition, the untimely rains led to a disturbing consequence: the decomposition of the spices while still on the plant, which made harvesting much more difficult. Some experts predict that yields of some herbs could drop by as much as 20-30% this year as a result of this unexpected event, affecting market supply and prices. One of the most critical indicators of the monsoon's impact on agricultural commodities is the state of the sugar crop. Regions like Maharashtra, a key contributor to India's sugarcane production, faced nearly 20% less rainfall than usual during the season. This is reflected in the state reservoirs, which are only filled to 79% of their capacity, which is a significant decrease compared to the previous year. The implications are significant given that Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka together account for more than 80% of the country's sugarcane production.

The economic implications of such climate variability are far-reaching. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has predicted that extreme heat and humidity could lead to a loss of up to 4.5% of India's GDP by 2030 due to reduced labour productivity. Looking further ahead, the forecast is equally sobering, with climate change threatening to wipe out 2.8% of India's GDP by 2050 and threaten the living standards of nearly half its population. A colossal challenge looms on the horizon: sourcing new investments ranging from $7.2 trillion (baseline scenario) to $12.1 trillion (accelerated scenario) by 2050 to address the impact of climate change. This financial burden underlines the gravity of the situation and the urgent need for proactive adaptation and mitigation strategies.

In response to these pressing concerns, the Government of India has taken several measures. These include expanding free food programs to ease the burden on low-income consumers and boosting the distribution of subsidized vegetables such as onions and tomatoes. In addition, the release of wheat and sugar stocks into the market aims to stabilize prices and provide some relief amid this turbulent climate-induced market volatility. Furthermore, the influence of monsoon forecasts on agricultural commodity markets cannot be underestimated. As the climate crisis unfolds, it is imperative that stakeholders across sectors collaborate, adapt and innovate to meet the challenges posed by erratic weather and ensure a resilient future for India's agricultural economy.

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  • Bhagwan Dass @Bhagwan Dass
    World farmers and small scale industry is crying in soyabean and soy oil for low price
    Like 0
  • Bhagwan Dass @Bhagwan Dass
    Indian farmers are looking at Biden for soyabean price
    Like 0
  • Bhagwan Dass @Bhagwan Dass
    Us farmers depand on china
    Like 0
  • Bhagwan Dass @Bhagwan Dass
    Indian farmers are in trouble.No rain in soyabean area
    Like 0
  • Bhagwan Dass @Bhagwan Dass
    Us farmers are crying
    Like 0

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