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Indonesia Braces for Devastating Forest Fires & Crop Losses as Severe Dry Season Looms

As Indonesia gears up to face the upcoming dry season, it remains essential for all parties involved to collaborate effectively and take proactive steps to safeguard the nation's agricultural sector, reduce the risk of forest fires, and ensure the welfare of the population.

Shivam Dwivedi
Indonesia Braces for Devastating Forest Fires & Crop Losses as Severe Dry Season Looms (Photo Source : Pixabay)
Indonesia Braces for Devastating Forest Fires & Crop Losses as Severe Dry Season Looms (Photo Source : Pixabay)

Indonesia is bracing itself for an upcoming severe dry season as the El Nino weather pattern takes hold, posing threats to agricultural harvests and increasing the risk of forest fires. Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia's meteorological, climatological, and geophysics agency (BMKG), issued a warning during a press conference on Tuesday.

Based on the available data, Karnawati stated that El Nino began in June and is expected to affect nearly the entire Indonesian archipelago, intensifying until September. She highlighted that the main islands of Indonesia will experience severe drought conditions, with some regions potentially receiving no rainfall or as little as 30% of the usual amount.

The consequences of this prolonged dry spell are expected to be significant. Karnawati emphasized that the reduced availability of groundwater will have adverse effects on agriculture, irrigation, and ultimately lead to crop failures. Moreover, the heightened drought conditions also raise concerns about the occurrence of forest fires, which have plagued Indonesia in the past.

In 2019, Indonesia witnessed devastating forest fires that resulted in a blanket of haze engulfing the country and neighboring regions. The World Bank estimated that the economic losses incurred in the eight affected provinces amounted to approximately USD 5.2 billion. The severity of that event serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address the risks associated with forest fires.

The impact of El Nino extends beyond Indonesia, as signs of hot and dry weather have emerged across Asia. Analysts predict that palm oil and rice production in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, which collectively supply 80% of the world's palm oil, will be particularly affected. These vital agricultural sectors are likely to suffer due to the adverse conditions brought about by El Nino.

In response to the impending challenges, stakeholders are being urged to prepare and implement measures to mitigate the risks associated with the severe dry season. Karnawati emphasized the importance of leveraging weather modification technology as a possible solution. She stressed the need for extreme caution and concerted efforts to minimize the potential impact on agriculture, irrigation, and forest fire occurrences.

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