Indonesia plans cloud seeding to avoid crop failure

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JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia is preparing to sow clouds in an attempt to trigger rainfall to prevent crop failure and forest fires, the spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency said today.

Data from the agency shows that on 22 July, some 20,269 hectares of agricultural land were at risk of crop failure due to drought. Spokesman Agus Wibowo said that 3 trillion rupees ($ 215 million) could occur if the drought problem is not addressed and the crop fails.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo last week ordered cabinet ministers and regional leaders to intervene to prevent crop failure.

The authorities plan to sow the clouds from this month, firing rockets of salt into the clouds in an attempt to trigger rain in arid areas.

"Our priority is to maintain the stability of food supply in Indonesia and to avoid a drastic drop in production, which could lead to a huge amount of imports," said Wibowo.

The government will establish two bases for the operation, in the country's capital Jakarta and in Kupang, in the eastern part of Nusa Tenggara. The operation will be focused on Java Island, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara.

The dry season of this year is influenced by a mild climate El Nino, said Fachri Radjab at the Indonesian meteorological and geophysical agency. The peak of the dry season is expected to occur from mid-August to mid-September.

Reporting by Bernadette Christina; Editing by David Goodman

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