Earth and Environmental Sciences

El Niño and Rice Agriculture in Indonesia
Daniel J. Vimont (University of Wisconsin), Rosamond L. Naylor (Stanford University), and David Battisti (University of Washington)

Rice is the staple crop for most of Indonesia’s 240 million people. Rice production is strongly influenced by the seasonal migration of the monsoon rains, and by year-to-year fluctuations in the El Niño / Southern Oscillation phenomenon (ENSO). During a normal year, rice in Java (where more than half of Indonesia’s rice is grown) is planted during the early months of the wet season (late October through early December), when the ground has become moist enough for cultivation and transplanting. Rice then requires about 100cm of rainfall before the harvest that occurs about 90-120 days later. A smaller secondary rice planting, as well as plantings of other crops, typically takes place during April-May after the wet season harvest.

During an El Niño event, the typical annual march of the monsoon rains is delayed by up to two months. Annual rice plantings are thus delayed, as is the harvest. The delayed harvest contributes to a prolonged “paceklik”, or season of scarcity, which can exacerbate food insecurity especially among poorer populations.

Furthermore, El Niño events tend to reduce precipitation during the dry season, which can adversely affect secondary crops. The influence of ENSO on food insecurity can be mitigated by reliable prediction of ENSO events and subsequent agricultural intervention.

This talk will discuss ENSO variability and its influence on precipitation in Indonesia, impacts of ENSO on rice production, and possible changes to ENSO and rice production under global warming. The presentation will include strategies for reducing food insecurity for poorer populations through development of infrastructure, rice policy, and crop diversification.

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Earth and Environmental Sciences

Kavli Frontiers of Science PRO

This channel contains session presentations that cover earth science and environmental science topics from the Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium series of the National Academy of Sciences.

For additional symposium information, please visit our web


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This channel contains session presentations that cover earth science and environmental science topics from the Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium series of the National Academy of Sciences.

For additional symposium information, please visit our web site (nasonline.org/kfos).

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