Rizaldi Boer And Arjunapermal R Subbiah

Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world and comprises 5 main islands and about 30 smaller archipelagos. In total, there are 13,667 islands and islets, of which approximately 6,000 are inhabited. The estimated area of the Republic of Indonesia is 5,193,250 km2, which consists of a land territory of slightly more than 2,000,000 km2 and a sea territory of slightly more than 3,150,000 km2. Indonesia's five main islands are Sumatra (473,606 km2); Java and Madura (132,187 km2), the most fertile and densely populated islands; Kalimantan or two-thirds of the island of Borneo (539,460 km2); Sulawesi (189,216 km2); and Irian Jaya (421,981 km2), the least densely populated island, which forms part of the world's second largest island of New Guinea.

Of about 200 million ha of land territory, about 50 million ha area is devoted to various agricultural activities. There is nearly 20 million ha of arable land, of which about 40% is wetland (rice fields), 40% is dryland, and 15% is shifting cultivation. In the early 1970s, agriculture contributed about 33% to the gross domestic product. Its share decreased to 23% by the early 1980s and to 16.3% in 1996. However, agriculture is the most important sector in the national economy due to its capacity to employ 41% of the labor force (MoE, 1999).

Agriculture is vulnerable to drought. Ditjenbun (1995) reported that in 1994 many seedlings and young plants died due to a long dry season: about 22% of tea plants at age of 0-2 years, 4-9% of rubber plants at age of 0-1 year, 4% of cacao plants at age of 0-2 years, 1.5-11% of cashew nut plants at age of 0-2 years, 4% of coffee plants at age of 0-2 years, and 5-30% of coconut plants at age of 0-2 years. The impact of a long dry season on yields of plantation crops becomes known only a few months later. For example, oil palm production is known 6-12 months after a long dry season (Hasan et al., 1998). Rice is the main food crop severely affected by drought. On average, the total area affected per year by drought is 200,000 ha for rice, 26,000 ha for maize, 10,000 ha for soybeans, and 6,000 ha for peanuts (Ditlin, 2000).

In extreme drought years, the drought-affected area increases significantly. For rice, for example, the total affected area could go up to 900,000 ha, while for maize, soybeans, and peanuts, it could go up to 86,000, 38,000 and 23,000 ha, respectively (Ditlin, 2000). This chapter discusses briefly the causative factors of drought, drought monitoring systems, and drought mitigation for the agricultural sector in Indonesia.

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