JAKARTA, INDONESIA — Indonesia’s planting of the 2016, mostly irrigated, main season paddy crop, which accounts for the bulk of annual production, usually starts with the onset of seasonal rains in early October and continues until December, according to a Nov. 13 GIEWS Country Brief from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). However, following below-average rainfall during October this year over large parts of the country, plantings have been delayed.

Furthermore, yields of the early-planted crops are expected to be negatively affected, particularly in the rainfed areas. Most-affected provinces include West Java, East Java, Central Java, North and South Sulawesi and Lampung, which, together, normally account for close to two-thirds of the country’s annual rice production, FAO said. The final outcome of the 2016 rice harvest will largely depend on the availability of water supplies for irrigation for the current main and forthcoming off-season, as approximately 85% of total rice area is irrigated, according to FAO. There are also concerns about planting of the 2016 main season maize crop, which has just started and normally continues into December. Seasonal rains could be delayed by four to eight weeks in most parts of the country.
The Indonesian government has put in place measures to mitigate the impact of the current dry weather, through the rehabilitation of irrigation channels, building of new reservoirs and wells and distribution of water pumps to affected farmers. More rains are urgently needed in the coming weeks to avoid significant 2016 main season production declines in the rainfed areas, FAO said.

Harvesting of the 2015 off-season rice crop will continue until December, with the bulk already gathered between July and mid-October. Prolonged dry weather between May and September across southern and eastern parts of the country delayed planting operations and caused yield reductions particularly in the rainfed areas. As a result, FAO lowered its forecast for the 2015 aggregate rice production by 2.6 million tonnes, to 73 million tonnes (in paddy terms). Pending more detailed information on the full extent of the damage to the 2015 off-season crop, FAO’s current forecast still implies a 3% expansion from the 2014 slightly reduced level, mainly due to the record 2015 main harvest, gathered earlier in the year.
Harvesting of the 2015 maize crop was completed in October. Similarly to rice, the estimate of the 2015 aggregate maize output has been lowered from earlier expectations by 1.2 million tonnes to 19.5 million tonnes, following dry weather during the second part of the off-season.

Indonesia is one of the biggest importers of cereals in Far East Asia. Overall, cereal imports for the 2015-16 marketing year (April-March) are forecast at 11.8 million tonnes, some 5% below the record volume of the previous year, FAO said. This is mainly the result of an anticipated 17% decrease in maize imports to 2.9 million tonnes, reflecting a good level of production in 2015 and a high level of carryover stocks. Wheat imports are anticipated to increase marginally and reach 7.9 million tonnes, reflecting sustained demand for the commodity. Similarly, rice exports in 2016 are forecast 400,000 tonnes up to 1.3 million tonnes, largely based on uncertainty over the outcome of the 2016 main season crop.

Although current forecasts for the 2015 rice and maize outputs still point to an increase compared to 2014 level, significant localized production losses are expected, raising concerns for large numbers of subsistence farming families in the drought-affected provinces.