Agriculture sector in Southeast Asia is facing serious problem, in which the production several comodities such as rice and corn is fluctuated causing the unstability in the food supply. One factor influencing the rice productions is climate extreme.
El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. Trade winds and atmosphere are also impacted by El Niño.
In Indonesia, currently the price of rice is increasing because the availability of rice is decreasing. The impact of El Nino greatly influences this situation. Several provinces have experienced drought which has resulted in rice fields failing to harvest.
The Impact of El Nino on Farmers
The impact of El Nino is felt by farmers, especially in the agricultural sector. Some of the impacts are:
El Nino often causes sea surface temperatures to increase and reduce rainfall in some areas. Prolonged drought can occur as a result of this, causing the availability of water for agriculture to decrease.
- Planting Season Disruption
El Nino changes weather patterns and can disrupt the usual planting season. Farmers may experience delays in planting crops, a reduction in planting area, or even crop failure.
- Diseases and Pests
Changes in weather conditions due to El Nino can affect the spread of plant diseases and pests. A more favorable environment for some diseases and pests may emerge, which can lead to faster spread and damage to crops and reduced yields.
- Decrease in Plant Quality
High temperatures and water shortages due to El Nino can cause a decrease in crop quality. Fruits and vegetables grown in less than ideal conditions tend to be smaller, taste less delicious, and have poor overall quality.
- Market Instability
Changes in agricultural production due to El Nino can cause market instability. If harvests are reduced or fail, supply can decrease, which can then lead to price increases and an imbalance between supply and demand.
Mitigation and climate data are very necessary in the agricultural sector to reduce negative impacts. Therefore, modern agriculture based on data and good risk analysis must be strengthened and its socialization must be intensified.
Efforts to Anticipate and Adapt to El Nino in the Agricultural Sector
To face the threat of El Nino, farmers and governments can take the following steps:
Identification and Mapping of Affected Areas
Identifying and mapping areas at risk of experiencing drought is an important step to anticipate and overcome the impact of El Nino. Higher risk areas can be categorized into red, yellow and green zones to devise appropriate mitigation strategies.
- Planting Acceleration
Farmers can speed up the planting schedule to catch the remaining rain that is still available before the dry period arrives. In this way, they can maximize the potential yield.
- Increased Availability of Machine Tools
The government can increase the availability of agricultural tools and machinery (machines) to help farmers in the process of accelerating planting. Modern machinery allows the planting process to be more efficient and faster.
- Increased Water Availability
Construction and improvement of water management infrastructure such as reservoirs, ditch dams, infiltration wells, rehabilitation of irrigation networks and pumping are important to increase water availability during the dry season.
- Provision of Drought and OPT Resistant Seeds
Providing superior seeds that are drought resistant and optimal pest and disease (OPT) control options need to be prioritized to ensure agriculture continues to produce well even in unfavorable weather conditions.
- El Nino Impact Adaptation and Mitigation Program
The government can design special adaptation and mitigation programs to deal with the impacts of El Nino. This program can include education, technical guidance, and assistance for farmers.
- Centralized and Independent Development of Organic Fertilizer
Using organic fertilizer can help increase soil fertility and plant resistance to drought. The development of centralized and independent organic fertilizer can support farmers in facing El Nino.