PUNE, India, April 23 (Reuters) - India and its South Asian neighbours are expected to see below average to average rains this year, a forum of weather experts said on Wednesday, if the El Nino weather pattern gains strength during the four-month monsoon season.
"There is a strong consensus about the possibility of evolution of an El Nino event during the summer monsoon season," said D.S. Pai, the lead forecaster of the Indian weather office, releasing the consensus forecast of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum, a group of global weather experts.
Below average monsoon rains could damage crop production in India, the world's second-biggest rice and sugar producer.
Poor rains in soybean areas of central and western regions could also make the world's top importer of cooking oils more dependent on overseas purchases.
El Nino is marked by a warming of the sea's surface on the Pacific Ocean and can cause severe drought in Australia, South East Asia and India. (Reporting by Ratnajyoti Dutta; Editing by Ed Davies and Himani Sarkar)