Drought Mitigation

Drought mitigation strategies include identifying and mapping drought-prone areas by the Directorate of Plant Protection, improving stochastic models of climate forecasting such as time-series regression techniques (Dupe, 1999; Haryanto, 1999; Boer et al., 2000), relocation of irrigation water to drought-affected areas, adopting short-duration crops, constructing small water-harvesting structures, restoring old irrigation structures, modernizing water pumping facilities, developing drought-resistant crops, practicing mixed (cash and food crops) cropping (ADPC, 2000), and improving soil and water conservation practices.

In Java and the eastern Indonesian region, during El Niño years farmers are frequently misled by the initial rains. These rains tempt farmers to plant. However, as the rains cease later, the crops usually die during dry spells. Most farmers keep some seed reserves in case they are forced to plant for a second time, during the wet season. Rarely do farmers have sufficient seed reserves for a third attempt when there is little likelihood of crop success. In most El Niño years, the incidences of misleading rains are noticeable. A long-lead forecast could help farmers wait until regular rains set in. This would also help in advising farmers not to resort to planting crops during El Niño years (taking the misleading rains into account) but to wait for suitable dates for planting appropriate crops.

The main problems in mitigating drought in Indonesia are poor skills to forecast climate and unavailability of methods to transfer the regional climate forecasts into local climate forecasts which can be easily interpreted by farmers. Policy-makers sometimes have wrong perceptions about

Figure 26.3 Production loss in normal and El Nino years by district (from Alimoeso et al., 2002).
Figure 26.4 Impact of El Niño on rice and secondary crops (drawn from Ditlin, 2000).
Figure 26.5 National food crops production in the period 1980-97. Arrows indicate El Niño years (drawn from BPS, 2002).

climate information. For example, based on interviews in several districts in Java, the information regarding El Niño of 2001 was given as if for 2000. All these problems need to be resolved to make the mitigation measures effective.

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