NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has retained its forecast for this year's monsoon rains at 88 percent of the long-period average, the weather office said on Monday, adding the El Nino weather pattern could strengthen during the rest of the season.
India received a similar level of rains last year but the government did not declare a drought as the monsoon picked up in the latter half of the season, underscoring its highly unpredictable nature, which keeps farmers on the edge.
Monsoon rains are expected to be 84 percent of the long average in the August-September period, India Meteorological Department said.
El Nino, or a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, can prompt dry spells in Southeast Asia and Australia and heavy rains in South America, curbing food crop output.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Malini Menon)