Indian monsoon rains about a third below average in past week

India's monsoon rains were 31 per cent below average for the week ended June 25, weather office data showed on Thursday, the third straight week of poor rains after a delayed start.

"The lull in the monsoon is expected to continue in the next week, though sporadic rains should occur on the east coast," said a weather official who did not wish to be named.

In the week to June 18 rains were 45 per cent below average, as the progress of the monsoon stalled after covering half of India four days later than usual.

India's farm sector accounts for 14 per cent of its nearly US$2 trillion economy. Poor rains this year could hit summer crops, raising food prices and pressuring economic growth that has nearly halved to below 5 per cent in the past two years.

The annual rains arrived over the southern Kerala coast five days behind the normal June 1 start and then entered a lull, with poor rains over the interior parts of southern and central India.

Sowing activities of major summer crops such as rice, corn, soybean, sugarcane and cotton have started in many areas but at a slower pace.