JAKARTA, July 22 (Reuters) - Indonesia is preparing to carry out cloud seeding in an effort to trigger rainfall to prevent harvest failure and forest fire, the disaster mitigation agency's spokesman said on Monday.
The agency's data shows that on July 22 about 20,269 hectares of agricultural land were at risk of harvest failure because of drought. Spokesman Agus Wibowo said an estimated 3 trillion rupiah ($215 million) loss could occur if the drought problem is not addressed and harvests fail.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo last week ordered cabinet ministers and regional heads to take action to avoid crops failure.
Authorities plans to carry out cloud seeding from this month, shooting salt flares into clouds in an attempt to trigger rainfall in dry areas.
"Our priority is to maintain stability of food supply in Indonesia and avoid a drastic drop in production, which could result in a huge amount of imports," Wibowo said.
The government will establish two bases for the operation, in the country's capital Jakarta and in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara. The operation will be focused on Java Island, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara.
This year's dry season is affected by a mild El Nino weather pattern, said Fachri Radjab at Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency. Peak of dry season is expected to occur from mid-August to mid-September. ($1 = 13,940 rupiah) (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Editing by David Goodman)
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