Indonesia: Seasonal Climate and Vegetation Monitoring Outlook - Special Focus: Potential Impacts of La Niña (October - December 2020)

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Key Messages & Recommendations

Response to La Niña conditions: Given the anticipated rainfalls from October to December 2020, paddy cultivation conditions are expected to be optimal. In line with typical La Niña patterns, an increase of 40% above average rainfall is predicted across several parts of Indonesia.

In July, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and the Climate Prediction Centre predicted a 50-55% chance of La Niña to develop during September to November and last until December 2020 to February 2021.
However to mitigate any anticipated adversary La Niña effects to maintain production potential the following is recommended: a) improved irrigation and drainage system for better management of excess water, and b) provision of timely early warning information and services at community level on unusual flooding and landslides.

In addition, the provision of flood- and/or pest-resistant paddy seedling varieties and promotion of paddy crop insurance to safeguard against crop failure has potential to function as an anticipatory action allowing farmers respond to climatic anomalies and ensure crop productivity.

Geographic variation in precipitation from normal, to droughts to areas of flooding: From July to September 2020, although there was some geographic variation, precipitation was classified as normal in most provinces. Whilst, the northern provinces received sufficient precipitation, the southern provinces including Jawa, Bali, Nusa Tenggara Timur experienced meteorological drought. In the southern provinces of Sulawesi Tenggara, southern Maluku, southern parts of Papua localized extreme days (> 60 days) without rain were observed. Although July to September is the peak of the dry season, extreme rain events occurred in several provinces, including Jawa Barat, Sulawesi Selatan, Sulawesi Tenggara, Sulawesi Tengah and Maluku, causing floods and damaging crops.

Reservoir levels low yet increasing: Water levels in many reservoirs across Indonesia decreased during the peak of the 2020 dry season; yet remained above 2019 dry season levels. In the beginning of September, the reservoir height remained below the baseline. Levels are anticipated to rise with an increased September rainfall.

Shocks impacting production: According to Ministry of Agriculture reports (July to September) on hydrometeorological disasters and pests, crop failure occurred in 21,000 ha of 159,000 ha of paddy fields. This was due to dual shocks. First, extreme rain resulted in floods in the northern regions. Flooding during the dry season resulting in crop disturbances is not typical in Indonesia. In July the incidence of flooding in paddy fields in selected areas increased drastically. Second, long no-rain-periods resulted in droughts in the southern regions.

From July to September 2020, the areas affected by natural disasters and pest attacks included the primary rice-production provinces of Sulawesi Selatan, Sulawesi Tenggara, Jawa Tengah, Jawa Timur. Rice production in Sulawesi Selatan decreased by 7%, or 214,500 tons, compared to 2019 due to heavy rainfall and floods. Nonetheless, the paddy field areas affected by the climatic disasters and pests this year as well as crop failure remain lower compared to the long-term average.

BMKG predicted that October-November precipitation throughout Indonesia would remain at moderate to high levels with some geographic variation in the south-east, such as southern Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Nusa Tenggara Timur and Merauke in Papua. With the decline of water reservoir levels and with the predicted minimal rainfall, careful water management is recommended in these areas to minimize the effects of drought.