Indonesia's Sumatra, Kalimantan regions face flood risk
The resource-rich regions are among the areas at high risk of flooding this month as Indonesia anticipates heavy rain during the December/January rainy season.
Posted: Monday , 12 Dec 2011
JAKARTA (Reuters) -
Indonesia's commodity-rich Sumatra and Kalimantan regions are among areas at high risk of flooding this month, the state weather agency said on Monday, adding to the region's struggles with high waters this year.
Prolonged rains last year hurt crops such as coffee and flooded coal mines, and officials from major agricultural groups fear that an extended wet season this time would limit an emerging recovery in next year's coffee and cocoa production.
"Parts of Indonesia have begun their rainy season in November (and) most of Indonesia's territory may have normal rain," said Sri Woro Hariyono, head of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency. "At coastal areas, there are higher potential for flood when sea water enters coastal areas.
"There are 21 provinces with flood potential, of which 16 provinces have high flood potential."
The country's rainy season is expected to peak in December and January, the agency added.
The high water levels forecast for Indonesia comes after the worst floods in Thailand in decades, which devastated industry and farmlands. The Mekong Delta was also inundated this year, delaying Vietnam's crucial winter-spring rice crop, while Malaysia expected to see severe monsoons up to March.
Australia's weather bureau said last week that La Nina, a weather phenomenon usually linked to heavy rains and floods in the Asia-Pacific and South America and drought in Africa, has strengthened, adding that the condition will last through the end of the Southern Hemisphere summer.
IMPACT ON COFFEE, COCOA
"Heavy rain will disrupt coffee pollination and cause young beans to rot nd finally drop," said Rachim Kartabrata, from the Indonesia Coffee Exporter and Industry Association (AEKI).
"However, actually we are expecting our coffee output next year to recover. Generally, we estimate that if the weather condition is normal next year, then coffee output is estimated to reach 650,000 tones."
That figure is equivalent to 10.83 million bags and is in line with earlier forecasts, but is way above the 8.75 million bags estimated by the International Coffee Organization for the 2011/12 crop.
However, if the weather is wet, coffee output from the world's third-biggest producer for next year is estimated at 550,000 tonnes, Kartabrata said. That would be equivalent to 9.17 million bags, almost flat against last year's 548,000 tonnes, or 9.13 million bags.
The cocoa industry in Indonesia, the world's third-biggest producer after Ivory Coast and Ghana -- accounting for around 10 percent of global output -- has been grappling with pests and diseases for years, with production sliding from a 2006 peak at 650,000 tonnes.
The Indonesia Cocoa Association (Askindo) forecasts cocoa beans output this year to dip to 430,000 tonnes, below its 450,000 tonnes estimate in October.
"Cocoa's main harvest in March, April and May could be affected because cocoa flowering usually take place in December-January," said Zulhefi Sikumbang, chairman of Askindo.
"In general, we expect cocoa beans output in 2012 will be better than this year," he added. "We cannot hope too much. We estimate cocoa beans output in 2012 may not be over 500,000 tones."
Wet weather wreaked havoc on the crop in early 2011 and brought back the Vascular-streak Dieback (VSD) disease, which killed trees in plantations across the main growing regions.
But the outlook for palm oil looks less grim in the world's top producer of the vegetable oil, limited more to transportation and distribution, rather than production.
In recent weeks, many Indonesian palm oil producers have said that while the wet weather has arrived on plantations, there has been no flooding and rains are not comparable with last year.
"Impact of flood to palm oil production is estimated to be small because generally palm oil plantation is not located in flooding areas," said Fadhil Hasan, executive director at the Indonesia Palm Oil Association.
"However, it is possible if palm oil transportation and distribution will be affected by the flood."
He added that Indonesian palm oil output in 2012 would be 25.4-25.5 million tonnes, up from 23-23.5 million tonnes this year.
(Writing by Michael Taylor; Editing by Ramthan Hussain)
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