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India's Met department says monsoon covers entire country
MUMBAI, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The Indian southwest monsoon has covered the whole country by July 17th, Meteorological Department said on Thursday.
This is only two days behind the normal schedule, marking a major turnaround after the rain system progressed at best in fits and starts in the first month of June.
The revival of monsoon rains in the grain bowl of northwest and central regions should help speed up sowing of main summer crops such as rice, corn, soybean and cotton.
Poor rains since the start of the June-September season had raised concerns of a first drought in five years.
Rains are vital to India's farm sector, which accounts for about 14 percent of the country's nearly 2 trillion-U.S.-dollar economy. Two thirds of its 1.2 billion population live in rural areas.
Last year, monsoon rains covered the country almost a month ahead of schedule, helping grain output hit a record level.
Xinhua is China's state-run news agency.
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