Annual monsoon rains, crucial to India's economy, covered the country on Wednesday but remained 23 percent below average, sparking fears of their impact on two cereal-producing states.
The pounding rains that sweep across the continent from June to September are dubbed the "economic lifeline" of India, which is one of the world's leading producers of rice, sugar, wheat and cotton.
"The monsoon is covering the entire country today with parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan (states) receiving heavy rains," India's chief meteorologist L. S. Rathore told reporters in New Delhi.
The monsoon arrived four days late in the southern state of Kerala in June and has been patchy as it progresses to food-bowl states in north India.
"It is still minus 23 percent (of the normal rainfall average)," Rathore said, adding that the precipitation shortfall was likely to "continue until next week".
The spread of the rains is likely to speed up the sowing of staple paddy and cash crops such as soyabean and groundnut, Rathore said.
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters separately that the national "rainfall situation is definitely improving vis-a-vis 10 days back".
Last week rainfall was reported to be running at 31 percent below the annual average.
But Pawar said there were fears that the uneven spread of the rains could hit cereal production in the states of Karnataka and Maharashtara.
"There is a cause for concern about coarse cereal production and drinking water supply in these two states," he warned.
Agriculture contributes about 15 percent to India's GDP but only 40 percent of farms are irrigated. The livelihood of hundreds of millions in the country of 1.2 billion people is dependent on the farming sector.
Government agencies last month said they would maintain their forecast for an average monsoon.
But memories remain fresh of India's devastating drought in 2009 that came despite the meteorological department's predictions of a normal monsoon.
The drought, the worst in nearly four decades, sent food prices rocketing and caused huge hardship for the country's poor.