Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Agriculture Ministry formed a task force for handling the extreme weather phenomenon El Niño, estimated by the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) to occur around June and become more intense in August.

"I press for the formation of a task force in every region," Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo stated during a coordination meeting with officials from the ministry and regional governments through teleconference here, Monday.

"All of us have to sit down together to formulate everything, starting from region mapping to institutional concept and to the action plan," he noted.

Limpo underscored the importance of forming a region-based task force, as each region requires different handling.

"There are green category regions that are not affected, which means unhindered production. However, there are also the yellow and red category regions that require further handling," he explained.

"All regional governments should keenly read the need of their regions," he noted.

Water management for agricultural needs was said to be a crucial point in confronting El Niño.

To this end, he called on every region to reserve water, so that when El Niño occurs, there is a reserve for farming purposes.

In addition to water management, Limpo also called on regions to pay attention to the crop varieties that they use. To confront El Niño, drought-resilient crops should be planted.

Meanwhile, for fertilization, regions are expected to be able to implement a balanced fertilizing method.

"Organic fertilizers should be developed massively while keeping it balanced through the use of chemical fertilizer for no more than 50 percent," Limpo emphasized.

Moreover, he urged all ministry and regional government officials to be ready for the worst-case scenario while also maintaining their optimism.

"We prepare ourselves by assuming the worst, but we cannot let it weaken us," he stressed.

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Translator: Kuntum Khaira R, Fadhli Ruhman
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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