India's drought 'worst since 1972', says met department

      India's meteorological department has said that rainfall this year has been 23 percent below average at the end of the monsoon season, making it the worst drought since 1972 in the country. India is the world's second biggest producer of rice, wheat and sugar and millions of farmers in rural India rely on the monsoon to grow their crops. According to a report by BBC News, officials admit that the weak monsoon will have a negative impact on the economy. The four-month monsoon season officially ended on September 30. There are regional differences. The north-west had the worst rainfall deficit at 36 percent, while the southern part of the country was just 7 percent below average. Things could have been worse. Rains returned to many parts of the country in August after an extremely dry period in June. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already said that there are ample food stocks to ensure there is no threat of widespread hunger. But, many farmers are struggling with a lack of irrigation, and facing financial crisis, while the price of some basic food stuffs like sugar has risen sharply because of the expectation of low crop yields. Officials said that the weak monsoon will have a negative impact on the country's overall economy at a time when other sectors of the economy are beginning to shrug off the effects of the global downturn.

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