The India Meteorological Department said on Wednesday that the southwest monsoon in the country is likely to be “near normal”.

The monsoon rains, which officially last from June to September, is likely to be 96% of the long period average, with a margin of error of 5%, the IMD said. The long period average is the average rainfall received by the country as a whole during the southwest monsoon over the last 50 years.

However, Ministry of Earth Sciences Secretary M Rajeevan said that monsoon rains are likely to be 100% of the long period average, Reuters reported.

The weather department’s forecast was the first-stage long range forecast of the monsoon. It said that the second-stage forecast will be made in early June.

The IMD also said that “weak El Nino conditions are likely to prevail during the monsoon season with reduced intensity in the later part of the season”. El Nino is a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean which impacts global climatic conditions.

If the prediction of a “near-normal” monsoon bears out, it could provide some relief to the coronavirus-affected Indian economy by increasing farm output. Agricultural activities in the country have been allowed in the midst of a nationwide lockdown to combat the virus.