MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian monsoon rains have covered nearly half of the country, the weather department said on Monday, accelerating planting of summer crops like paddy rice, soybeans, cotton and pulses.
The June to September monsoon is crucial for farm output and economic growth in India, where just over half of arable land is fed by rain. The farm sector makes up about 15 percent of the $2-trillion economy that is Asia's third biggest.
The sowing has been held up this year due to a delay in the arrival of monsoon rains, but now conditions are becoming favorable for further progress of the monsoon in central and western India, the weather office said in a statement.
The monsoon has covered all southern and eastern states and nearly the whole of Maharashtra, the biggest producer of sugar and second biggest producer of cotton and soybeans.
"Paddy (rice) transplanting is gaining momentum in southern and eastern states," said an official at the Agricultural Meteorology Division of India Meteorological Department.
"Soybean, cotton and pulses sowing will also gain momentum this week," the official said.
Of its 1.3 billion population, more than 60 percent of people in India depend on agriculture to eke out a living.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Keith Weir)