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Last Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Monsoon hits Indian coast early
Annual monsoon rains have hit India's southern coast of Kerala, a week ahead of schedule.

The early arrival of the monsoon was welcomed by market analysts and millions of farmers, who depend on the rains to nourish their fields.

Agriculture generates a fifth of India's national income and a bumper harvest also boosts demand in other sectors of the economy.

The rains are due to head north to cover the whole of India by mid-July.

"There have been persistent rains in Kerala for the last two to three days," said DS Pai, of the India Meteorological Department.

Radha Singh, of the agriculture ministry, said if the monsoon continues at its current pace, it would help boost farm production.

The June to September rains are the main source of water for farming in India, where nearly two-thirds of the population earn a living from agriculture.

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