Monsoon rains already covering half of India: Sources

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's annual monsoon rains have covered half of the country two days ahead of the usual date, sources in the weather office said on Thursday.

"In fact, monsoon rains have advanced slightly more than the half of the landmass," said one of the officials, who requested anonymity.

The monsoon rains arrived on schedule over the southern Kerala coast on June 1, and then progressed faster over mainland India.

Rainfall during June 1-12 was 23 per cent above average, triggering early planting for a host of summer crops, including rice, oilseeds and cotton in many parts of the country.

The annual monsoon rains are crucial for the 55 per cent of farmland without irrigation in India, one of the world's biggest producers and consumers of foodstuffs.