Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Low carbon agriculture in Indonesia


Agriculture plays an important role in the national economy and food security of Indonesia. Increasing food production, while not adversely impacting the climate and local environment, is a challenge to be met. Indonesia has set an economy-wide emission reduction target of 20%. This would require rapid and substantial scaling up of mitigation technologies in agriculture sector as well. However, being a developing nation and vulnerable to a range of climate change impacts, the country also need to focus on adaptation aspects in its response to climate change. Meeting both adaptation and mitigation goals could pose challenge to the country with limited resources necessitating a synergistic approach to the problem. Such a synergistic approach is possible by considering both mitigation and adaptation goals while prioritizing mitigation and adaptation technologies from the context of policy focus. Estimation of marginal abatement costs and cost-benefit analysis of various agro-technologies could provide a means of meeting the both ends. The chapter has identified that there is a huge potential for the country to promote those adaptation technologies that have huge mitigation potential (and vice versa). The major barriers for expanding these technologies have been lack of proper incentives for technology adoption and capacity building of farmers. The best way to enhance the efficiency of a technology is to target it to the specific ecosystem conditions. While focusing on individual technologies, there is a need to consider how these technologies behave in the existing context of knowledge and infrastructure on the ground.

Need for Synergistic Approach to Climate Change in Indonesia

Indonesia is an agrarian economy with agriculture contributing to 13.8% of national GDP in terms of value addition and employs 38% of Indonesian population (The World Bank 2008). The government of Indonesia has made serious efforts to improve the food self sufficiency and nutritional security over the past decade. As a result, the national expenditure on agriculture stood at 21.9 trillion IDR in 2007, which is double the expenditure made in 2001. Despite the rising investments in agriculture, Indonesia is still a net importer of cereals, pulses and sugar and is facing the challenge of hunger and malnutrition with nearly 38% of its children suffering from under weight and malnutrition. Indonesia is classified as ‘serious’ in global hunger index by IFPRI.

As a vulnerable state to climate change impacts

While the above challenges are yet to be fully addressed, the climate change brings another dimension of challenge to the Indonesian agriculture which is due to its vulnerability to the climate change impacts while also contributing to the climate change (Las and Unadi 2010). A short discussion on climate change impacts on Indonesian agriculture is presented in the chapter on ‘Developing adaptation policies in the agriculture sector: Indonesia’s experience Agriculture’ in this book. Past climate observations and available climate change projections indicate that Indonesia is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts (Ministry of Environment October 1999, Ministry of Environment 2011). The historical analysis of climatic data has indicated a significant increase in maximum and minimum temperatures across most of the stations in Indonesia along with associated sea level rise (Ministry of Environment 2011).  Past trends also indicated the presence of changes in precipitation, incidence of extreme temperatures and dry spells associated with a clear influence of decadal cycles of El Nino and La Nina. However, the trends were not uniform across the Island nation. For example, significant reduction in December-January rainfall was observed in parts of Sumatra, Java and Papua while an increase in precipitation was observed in eastern Indonesia including parts of Bali and Nusa Tenggara Barat. Despite the limitations in the availability of good quality projections for Indonesia region, the available projections indicated a similar trend as that of the historical trends (e.g. increased wet days in Bali and Nusa Tenggra). Though conclusive evidence is not yet available on projected negative impacts of climate change on crop production, analysis presented in Indonesian National Communications indicate change in wet and dry spells and seasonal precipitation patterns along with the influence of El Nino could largely pose serious threat to the Indonesian agriculture.

As a contributor of GHG emissions

In addition being vulnerable to climate change impacts, Indonesia also contributes to climate change in both direct and indirect means. As a direct source, Indonesian agriculture contributes to about 6% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the sector stands fourth after land use, land use change and forestry, fuel combustion, and waste sectors (Figure 1). The major contributors of GHG emissions in agriculture sector are rice paddies (Methane emissions to the tune of 34,860 GgCO2e), soil fertilizations (nitrous oxides emissions to the tune of 15,534 GgCO2e), and other minor sources such as emissions from manure piles, biomass burning etc (to the tune of 12,271 GgCO2e) (Suryahadi and Permana 2010).

Figure 1. GHG emissions (%) from various sectors in Indonesia (Las and Unadi 2010)

Land use changes: The indirect contribution of agriculture to GHG emissions is through demand for land. The growing population exerts pressure on food that in turn exerts pressure on land and other sources forcing intensive cultivation practices such as fertilizer applications and irrigation water pumping. In a scenario of increasing population, the agriculture is expected to produce more food either through vertical expansion (increase in productivity) or through the horizontal expansion (land use changes from forests to agricultural purposes). In Indonesia, both these phenomenon can be seen in the recent past. The productivity levels of Indonesian agriculture have increased over the years and more specifically in food crops such as rice. The rice productivity has more than doubled over a period of 40 years (FAO 2010), mostly due to employment of high yielding varieties, irrigation, fertilizers, and pesticides. At the same time, the cereal demand during the past four decades has also increased from 10 million tons in 1961 to 39 million tons in 2005 (FAO 2010). In order to meet this demand, over the same period, the area under primary crops has increased by 113% and the area under agriculture has increased by 25.6% while the area under forests has reduced by 38% in the last two decades alone (FAO 2010). This partially indicates that agriculture has played a role in converting the land under forests to agriculture in Indonesia. This is in conformity with the trend observed in the Southeast Asia (Figure 2; Prabhakar, 2010; and FAO, 2010) and corroborates to that of the land use change trends presented in the Second National Communication submitted by the Government of Indonesia (Ministry of Environment 2011).
Figure 2. Expansion of area under agriculture with corresponding decline in area under forests in Southeast Asia (FAO 2010).

Changing food preferences: Indonesia is a major non-vegetarian population. With growing income levels, the per capita consumption of animal products is also increasing over the years. As result, the emissions from animal husbandry are significant in Indonesia. The enteric fermentation contributes to the tune of 12,755 GgCO2e of methane annually. As shown in Figure 3, the animal husbandry related emissions have shown an increasing trend since 2003 owing to relative increase in animal population (Suryahadi and Permana 2010)

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