Parts of Indonesia set to face 'drier than usual' dry season

Indonesia will likely face a "drier than usual" dry season in a number of regions this year, President Joko Widodo said yesterday, adding that measures must be taken to ensure food security and price stability.

Speaking in a virtual Cabinet meeting, Mr Joko reiterated a warning from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation about a potential worldwide food crisis.

"We must calculate the impact of the dry season carefully because based on the prediction of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), 30 per cent of the regions entering the next season will experience worse dry season from usual," he said.

Mr Joko asked his aides to ensure water availability in key food-producing regions by retaining rainwater and filling lakes, dams, retention ponds and other artificial water reservoirs.

Other measures include prolonging the planting season so as to benefit from existing rainwater and managing stock supply thoroughly. The government must ensure the availability of seeds and fertilisers at an affordable price, he added.

The BMKG said in March that there will be a "wetter" dry season this year compared to last year. About 30 per cent of zones will be the exception to this and host a "drier than normal" dry season.

Indonesia, the world's largest producer of palm oil and some key commodities, was hit hard last year by land and forest fires due to a longer-than-usual dry season, particularly in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre, which monitors the region's haze, said hot spot activities are expected to remain generally subdued in the southern Asean region this month.

"However, a gradual increase in hot spot activities, particularly in the fire-prone areas of Sumatra and Kalimantan, can be expected from June with the onset of the traditional dry season in the southern Asean region," it said in an April 28 statement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2020, with the headline 'Parts of Indonesia set to face 'drier than usual' dry season'. Print Edition | Subscribe