Excessive Rain may Impact Agriculture
Excessively rainy weather conditions can negatively impact agricultural production. Anticipatory actions and early warnings are needed for areas prone to flooding.
JAKARTA, KOMPAS – Increasing rainfall in Indonesia this year need to be mitigated to reduce disaster risks. The agriculture sector, especially food crops, are amongst those that are most vulnerable.
Meanwhile, floods still occur in several parts of the country, caused by either overflowing river water or tidal flooding.
Floods, among other things, were reported in the districts of South Barito, East Barito and East Kotawaringin in Central Kalimantan. Both South Barito and East Barito have imposed a 14-day emergency-alert status for floods and other disasters.
Ardhasena Sopaheluwakan, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) center for climate information services head, said, in Jakarta on Monday (30/5/2022), that high rainfall in Indonesia this May was not only influenced by the La Niña weather phenomenon. In fact, it was mostly influenced by constant warming of sea surface temperatures in Indonesian waters due to global warming. “The effect of warming sea surface temperatures is five times greater than the warming of sea surface temperatures due to La Niña in Indonesia,” he said.
> La Niña Grows Stronger, Weather Grows More Erratic
As reported by Kompas on 30 May, La Niña, which has persisted for the last two years and had weakened since January 2022, has now returned stronger.
According to Ardhasena, the constant warming of sea surface temperatures will supply more water vapor that can trigger cloud growth and high-intensity rainfall. This has implications for the increasing risk of hydrometeorological disasters in Indonesia.
Ardhasena added that the agriculture sector, particularly food-crop production, is amongst those that will be most affected by the increase in hydrometeorological disasters. “Heavy rainfall increases the potential for flooding, which can damage agricultural land. Moreover, high rainfall will also damage the flowering process and result in the failure of fertilization,” he explained.
From late May to early June 2022, Ardhasena continued, areas likely to experience high rainfall with an alert status include Central Java (especially Cilacap), South Sulawesi (Bulukumba, North Luwu, Sidenreng Rappang, Sinjai Wajo), Maluku (Ambon), West Papua (Fakfak) and Papua (Dogiyai). Other areas already on alert status for high rainfall include South Sulawesi (Bone) and Maluku (Central Maluku).
Subejo, an agricultural socioeconomic lecturer at Gadjah Mada University’s (UGM) Faculty of Agriculture, said that from previous experience, La Niña, a phenomenon that can potentially cause high rainfall, poses a risk to agricultural production or food stability. Anticipatory actions are thus needed for areas prone to floods.
“For rice crops, it is necessary to prepare, for example, seeds that are resistant to flooding. So, when it floods and the land is soaked, it [the seed] will not die. Agricultural communities also need social aid so that they can replant their crops,” said Subejo.
In the long term, the BMKG’s climate field school needs to be expanded as it is important to increase farmers’ understanding of the risks of flooding and landslides so that losses can be anticipated. Agricultural insurance, Subejo added, must also be pushed.
An agricultural observer from the Indonesian Political Economy Association (AEPI), Khudori, said that despite the risks, La Niña also presented the possibility of increased agricultural production. Generally, the impact of La Niña is generally safer than El Niño.
Khudori added that, in this situation, it is simply a matter of how the government will show its support to increase production. This support includes meeting fertilizer demands, including subsidized fertilizers. “Dryers must also be considered. In horticulture, on the other hand, vegetables such as chili and tomatoes also need to be considered [in relation to La Niña],” he said.
Though the weather is forecast to be relatively wet, forest and land fires can still occur. “The forecast until September 2022 shows that there are still areas with high potential for forest and land fires in Central Sumatra and Central Kalimantan,” said Ardhasena.
Environment and Forestry Ministry Director of Forest and Land Fire Control Basar Manullang said that forecasts of wet weather conditions would not dampen efforts to prevent or anticipate forest and land fires that often occur in May. Forest and land fire prevention patrols are still being conducted by a joint team consisting of the Manggala Agni fire brigade, members of the National Police, the Indonesian Military (TNI) community leaders and the Fire Awareness Society (MPA).
The forecast until September 2022 shows that there are still areas with high potential for forest and land fires in Central Sumatra and Central Kalimantan.
Since 2020, the ministry also made weather modification technology (TMC) a permanent solution to prevent forest and land fires. TMC operations aim to wet peatlands to maintain moisture and ensure stable water levels.
The central government also encourages local administrations, especially in areas prone to forest and land fires, to increase vigilance and prioritize prevention efforts. On the flipside, coordination amongst stakeholders related to forest and land fire control from the central, regional to on-site levels are being strengthened too. (DIT/AIK/MTK/IDO/ESA/VIO/XTI)
This article was translated by Kesya Adhalia.