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MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's monsoon rains have covered the entire country a month ahead of the normal schedule, increasing the prospects for a bumper output for summer-sown crops such as rice, oilseeds and cotton in one of the world's leading producers.
The rains usually cover all of India by mid-July, but this year it happened on June 16, said a senior official at the India Meteorological Department, who did not want to be named.
The rains are crucial for farm output and economic growth as about 55 percent of the south Asian nation's arable land is rain-fed. The farm sector accounts for about 15 percent of India's near $2-trillion economy, Asia's third-biggest.
Monsoon rains, which arrived on schedule on the southern Kerala coast on June 1, recorded higher than average levels for the second straight week to June 12.
"A very strong pulse over the northwest region helped the monsoon to cover the entire country last night," said another official.
The rains should help speed up early sowing of summer crops, boosting potential output by allowing more time for crops to mature.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav and Ratnajyoti Dutta; Editing by Ed Davies)