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World News

Indonesia president warns risk of floods, agriculture damage from La Nina

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday urged his ministers to prepare for the potentially hazardous impact of an upcoming La Nina weather pattern that can cause flooding, landslides and impact agricultural output.

A woman wearing a protective face mask and a face shield walks past a banner depicting Indonesian President Joko Widodo promoting awareness of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Tanah Abang Station, in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Files

In an online meeting, Jokowi, as the president is widely known, said reports from Indonesia’s weather agency (BMKG) indicated monthly rain volumes in the country could increase by between 20%-40% over normal levels.

“I want all of us to prepare in anticipation of possible hydrometeorological disasters and to really calculate the impact of La Nina on agricultural production,” Jokowi said.

Palm oil prices are likely to jump in the first half of 2021, three leading industry analysts said last week, as the La Nina weather pattern hits edible oil supplies amid lower soybean crushing in Argentina and rising sunflower oil prices.

Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, which is used in a wide array of products from food to cleaning products.

The Southeast Asian country is also a big producer and exporter of crops such as coffee, cocoa and rubber.

A La Nina pattern is characterized by unusually cold temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

BMKG said in a statement posted on its website that the weather pattern is expected to last until around March-April 2021.

BMKG head Dwikorita Karnawati told an online media briefing after meeting Jokowi that the wet weather will likely hit all of Indonesia except Sumatra island, though she said Sumatra typically already had high rain intensity.

“Generally, the high (rain) intensity will be evenly spread between November to April,” she said.

Reporting by Maikel Jefriando; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Ed Davies

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