Drought-reduced harvest threatens food security in Indonesia


El Niño-related drought, considered to be the worst in half a century, has reduced food production in Indonesia and exacerbated forest fires, adversely affecting the food security of the poorer sectors of the population. The Asian financial turmoil, which affected several countries including Indonesia, has also played its part in aggravating the food situation through a reduced import capacity and domestic price rises due to currency devaluation. The price rises, which sparked-off riots in several towns, are reported to have been accentuated bypanic buying and hoarding by traders.

Paddy production in 1997 is provisionally estimated to be some 2 million tonnes below the previous year's output of 51.1 million tonnes, mainly reflecting the drought damage to crops harvested in the later part of the year. The maize crop has also been affected. In addition to foodcrops, drought has reduced the output of coffee, cocoa and rubber, resulting in a contraction in incomes and erosion of purchasing power of the farmers dependent on such crops.

Special report: Indonesia

26 February 1998

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