A farmer tries to save his paddy which is submerged in floodwater in North Aceh on May. (Antara Photo/Rahmad)

Watch Out for La Niña's Impact on Agriculture: Jokowi

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA

OCTOBER 13, 2020

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo urged his ministers to anticipate the impact of La Niña -- a weather phenomenon that leads to higher rainfall -- towards agriculture.

The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) forecasted La Niña will cause the monthly accumulated rainfall to increase by 20 to 40 percent above normal.

Jokowi warned this forecast should not be taken lightly.

"We should anticipate possible hydrometeorology disasters and La Nina's impact on agricultural production, fisheries, and transportation. Twenty to forty percent is not a slight increase," the head of state told an online conference on Tuesday.

Information on the weather forecast should also be disseminated to all provinces and regions as soon as possible, he added.

Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Panjaitan revealed the government is currently working on an insurance scheme for the farmers' crops and fisheries hit by the disaster. Details such as the amount of this insurance are yet to be disclosed.

"Finance Minister Sri Mulyani earlier [in the meeting] had explained that there are funds for [the insurance]. But [the details] are still being finalized," Luhut said.

Luhut warned both the public and local governments to watch out for multi-hazards such as floods, landslides, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Because of this, the public must strictly follow BMKG's warnings at times of disaster.

It is also important for BMKG to be more technologically advanced. There should be a fast early warning system to notify the local governments with Indonesia being an archipelagic country, Luhut said.

"Early warning system can help us reduce the number of victims, casualties as well as material losses. Evacuation will also be quicker," he added.

According to BMKG head Dwikorita Karnawati, La Niña will most likely hit a large part of Indonesia with the exception of Sumatra. Even so, Sumatra will still see high rain intensity due to its local topography conditions.

The agency forecasted La Niña will reach its peak in December-January. Meanwhile, the rainy season will most likely be at its height on January-February. Nonetheless, Indonesia is already seeing heavy rainfall in October.

Well-Prepared

Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara has prepared community-based disaster areas as well as 39,000 volunteers scattered. The ministry has also been stockpiling basic supplies and logistics. 

These volunteers have always been on alert level 1. In case a disaster occurs, they are ready to immediately distribute the supplies in the affected area, Juliari said.

In normal conditions, each evacuation camp can accommodate up to hundreds of refugees. The gov't would have to implement health protocols and slash the capacity for each camp to avoid a new Covid-19 cluster.

"We will also consult with the Health Ministry if it is possible to carry out testing in these evacuation camps," Juliari said.

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