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Jakarta Post

El Niño will bring drier, longer dry season: BMKG

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, May 19, 2014   /  09:40 am

The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that the extended wet season some areas had enjoyed could be a sign of a longer dry period to come.

The agency warned that the dry season could last longer than in previous years due to a weather phenomenon known as El Niño, which affects temperature and rainfall, due to start in July.

In 1997-1998 Indonesia suffered its worst El Niño spell, resulting in a severe drought that led to forest fires.

Head of the BMKG meteorology division Mulyono R. Prabowo said that the agency had categorized the upcoming El Niño as normal '€” as temperature would see a change of no more than 0.5 degrees Celsius '€” but people should be prepared for the phenomenon as it would occur during the dry season.

'€œThe most noticeable effects will be that it is warmer and there will be a decline in rainfall,'€ Prabowo told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Although the BMKG predicts El Niño will kick off in July, it has yet to predict how long it will last, as this needs further assessment.

'€œWe do not know when it will end. It could be the end of the year or early next year,'€ he said.

There is no pattern dictating when El Niño occurs, but it often takes place every two to seven years.

Prabowo said that the coming El Niño would be less severe than the one that wreaked havoc across the country in 1997 and 1998, but he warned the agricultural sector to be prepared.

'€œFarmers should do something to anticipate this, such as make use of their irrigation system for the next few months,'€ he said

Separately, Deputy Agriculture Minister Rusman Heriawan said that the ministry was ready for El Niño and that it would not revise the production targets for rice or other crops.

'€œThis is a routine event and the important thing is our anticipatory measures. I believe harvest yields will not be affected,'€ he said.

Previously, the ministry said Indonesia would not import rice throughout 2014, as it predicted an 8 million ton surplus of rice by the end of this year, and had set the milled production target at 76 million tons.

Earlier this month a number of issues, including floods, forced the ministry to revise this figure to 73 million tons.

Rusman said that the government had prepared for the affects of El Niño by disseminating information to farmers, including calendars that designated specific crop planting dates.

'€œIt [the calendar] will be delivered shortly and we hope farmers use it,'€ he said.

Rusman added that the his ministry and the Public Works Ministry had also coordinated to ensure the availability of certain supporting equipment, such as water pumps to assist irrigation.

'€œThe most important issue during El Niño is water. We will make sure that we maintain supply,'€ he said.

Data from the BMKG said that areas likely to hit hard by El Niño included Central Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), South Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, Sumatra and West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).

'€œWater supply will be affected, so farmers should begin to save water,'€ Prabowo said.

He also said that replacing rice with other staple crops or plating drought-resistant paddy would be a good start. (idb)

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