The economic significance of monsoons is enormous. This is borne out by the fact that a population of more than 2000 million lives in the area which has got monsoon type of climate. Roughly about half the world’s population (54 per cent) depends on the monsoon rains for their crops.
Moreover, a large percentage of the total population in the monsoon region derives its income from agriculture. From West Africa to China, farmers wait anxiously for the advent of monsoon which signifies the beginning of rainy season.
In the Indian subcontinent the monsoon means life-giving rains. To the inhabitants of this region, these monsoons are said to be a matter of life and death. Most of the people inhabiting the tropical monsoon climate are cultivators. Rice is their major crop which provides food for millions of people.
Since rice is an irrigated crop, the monsoon rains are so essential for its growth. If the monsoon rains fail or if their arrival is delayed by a few weeks, widespread starvation and economic disaster are the natural result. In 1972, India suffered a colossal loss of about one-third of its food crops, on account of the late arrival of monsoon.
India had to face a similar catastrophe in 1974, when the monsoon was late by a few weeks. In some parts of India there was practically a famine.
Sometimes, on the other hand, the behaviour of monsoon is so erratic that in some parts of country heavy rains because disastrous floods, while in other parts there is severe drought.
It is primarily because of the great economic significance of monsoon that the Asian summer monsoon in particular has been given more attention.