JAKARTA: Indonesia is expecting a severe dry season from the impact of the El Nino weather pattern, threatening harvests and raising the risks of forest fires, the head of its weather agency said on Tuesday.
“Looking at the data we have, El Nino started in June and will affect almost all of Indonesia and worsen until September,” said Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of BMKG, the country’s meteorological, climatological and geophysics agency.
El Nino would cause severe drought on the main islands of Indonesia, with some likely to see no rain or just 30% of the typical amount, She told a news conference.
“This will decrease the availability of groundwater that will impact agriculture and irrigation, harvest failure, as well as forest fires,” Dwikorita said, urging stakeholders to prepare to mitigate the risks, including by use of weather modification technology.
“We have to be extremely careful,” she said.
Indonesia experienced devastating forest fires in 2019 which blanketed the country and the region with haze and caused about $5.2 billion in economic losses in eight affected provinces, according to the World Bank.
Early signs of hot, dry weather caused by El Nino are threatening food producers across Asia, with palm oil and rice production likely to suffer in Indonesia and Malaysia — which supply 80% of the world’s palm oil — and Thailand, according to analysts.