India's monsoon rains reach southern coast: Officials

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India's monsoon rains reached the southern Kerala coast on Friday, weather officials said, offering relief to farmers who have been waiting eagerly for the start of the wet season that is crucial for their summer crops.

A slight delay in the monsoon's onset is unlikely to have a major impact on sowing of rice, pulses and cotton that has started in many growing areas of northwest and southern India, taking advantage of pre-monsoon showers.

The formation of the El Nino weather phenemenon, which can cause drought in South Asia, is only expected to have an impact later on in the four-month rainy season. "We don't foresee any El Nino impact in the first month of the monsoon season," said B.P. Yadav, head of the National Weather Forecasting Centre at IMD in New Delhi, confirming the formal recognition by forecasters that the monsoon had begun.

He said the progress of the annual rains would be slow and unlikely to cover half of the nation by the first half of June.

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