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El Nino phenomenon expected to bring drought and challenges to Indonesia until year-end

Indonesia braces for persisting El Nino effects till year-end, with a warning from BMKG about serious risks including drought, forest fires, and reduced groundwater.

Meanwhile, measures for food security are underway, with the Ministry of Agriculture coordinating strategies to maintain crop production amid this extreme weather challenge



INDONESIA: The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has issued a warning that the El Nino phenomenon is expected to persist until the end of the year, potentially affecting the country’s weather patterns and natural resources.

Fachri Radjab, Head of the Climate Change Information Center at BMKG, stated that despite El Nino’s presence until December, its impact will gradually diminish with the onset of the rainy season, particularly in November.

“So, if asked, until when? El Nino itself will indeed persist until the end of the year, until December. But with the arrival of the rainy season, its impact will gradually decrease because there will be rain in November,” he said during the FMB9 dialogue on Monday (31 Jul).

El Nino’s prolonged presence is anticipated to bring about long drought periods, resulting in decreased rainfall across the affected regions. This poses a serious risk of drought, forest and land fires (karhutla), as well as a reduction in groundwater availability. Fachri urged the public to be prepared for the consequences of this phenomenon, including water scarcity and the need for wildfire prevention measures.

Some areas in Indonesia, such as Bali, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), have already experienced more than 60 consecutive days without rain.

BMKG categorizes this situation as an extreme condition, and it highlights the necessity of water conservation efforts from individuals, families, and communities.

“BMKG creates a mapping of rainless days and classifies it as an extreme category if there have been more than 60 consecutive days without rain. And this has already happened in Bali, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT),” said Fachri.

Fachri further emphasized the importance of urban residents consuming an adequate amount of water to prevent dehydration during the hot weather.

Additionally, he urged people to be cautious about the high levels of air pollution during the dry season, as it can have adverse effects on health, particularly on the skin.

The peak of the El Nino phenomenon, leading to more severe drought conditions, is expected to occur in August and September. However, some parts of Indonesia, particularly Sumatra, may experience rainfall in October. Nevertheless, regions like Bali, NTB, NTT, and Eastern Java are likely to remain dry until the end of the year.

Therefore, Fachri requested the public to remain vigilant about the potential drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon until October. It is predicted that the rainy season will begin in November.

In light of the upcoming challenges posed by El Nino, the Ministry of Agriculture (Kementan) has taken various measures to ensure food production and security.

Dedi Nursyamsi, Head of the Agricultural Extension and Human Resources Development Agency (BPPSDMP) at the Ministry of Agriculture (Kementan), conveyed that Kementan serves as the government’s frontline in ensuring food availability for the public by implementing proactive measures.

These strategies include short-term coordination with local governments to sustain crop production, optimizing the use of small reservoirs and irrigation channels, and providing drought-resistant seed varieties. These efforts aim to harvest food commodities before the extreme dry season arrives.

For the long term, Kementan has partnered with South Korea to implement smart agriculture concepts.

As quoted by Antara on Sunday (30 Jul), Dedi explained that Indonesia, along with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) through the Korean Agency of Education Promotion and Information Service in Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (EPIS), has established cooperation for smart agriculture concepts from 2021 to 2025.

This collaboration focuses on engaging young farmers and enhancing their capacity to use K-Smart farming technologies, adopting renewable energy sources, and responding to global climate changes, including El Nino’s impact.

Amid concerns about food shortages, the Head of the National Food Agency, Arief Prasetyo Adi, assured the public that the country has ample food stocks of strategic commodities until the end of 2023.

Measures have been put in place to ensure sufficient rice stocks through the involvement of the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) in procuring and storing 2.4 million tons of rice from farmers as a national reserve.

In addition to rice, the government is also making efforts to extend the shelf life of chicken, beef, buffalo, and other perishable products using cold storage facilities.

To prevent food shortages among the population, the government continues to provide rice assistance to 21.35 million Beneficiary Families (KPM) until the end of the year.

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