Indonesia’s agricultural sector is made up of large private and state-owned plantations and smallholder production modes. The large plantations of palm oil and rubber are exported, while the smallholder farmers produce rice, soybeans, corn, fruits, and vegetables. As cited by the Ministry of Agriculture, Central, East, and West Java are three of the largest rice-producing provinces in the country. In 2021, the agricultural industry contributed to approximately 13.28% of Indonesia’s GDP, the second biggest share after manufacturing.
Indonesia’s agricultural sector contributes to 2.4% of the global agricultural emissions, which accounts for 2.31B Tons of CO2e20 emitted from 2015 through 2021. Sub-sectors responsible for emissions are rice cultivation, enteric fermentation, other agricultural soil emissions, synthetic fertilizer application, manure management, and cropland fires. Rice cultivation has the largest impact and a share of 57.88% of the CO2 emissions, followed by enteric fermentation at 26.72%.
Considering the period between 2015 and 2021, the highest yearly agricultural emissions of 4.45 M tons of CO2 and 3.09M tons of CO2 were recorded in 2015 and 2019 respectively. However, a gradual decrease in emissions is seen from 2020 onwards, with the lowest emissions recorded in 2021, i.e 0.35 M tons of CO2.
Similarly, 24.4 M tons of CH4 (methane) has been emitted between 2015 -2021, with rice cultivation again being the major contributor accounting for 65.19% of the total emissions. Subsequently, within the last six years, nitrous oxide emissions add up to 5.70 M Tons of N2O of which 63.07% is from other agricultural soil emissions.
Rice is the staple food of Indonesia, and the country is one of the largest consumers of rice having a per capita consumption of almost 150 kg per person per year. Hence despite self-production, the country relies on the import of rice from Vietnam and Thailand to feed the growing population. Indonesia aims to become self-reliant in rice cultivation and eventually become a rice exporter. Therefore, the government of Indonesia’s 2015–2019 National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) highlights increased rice production for food security and self-reliance. The increased production, non-optimal agricultural techniques, direct use of methane and diesel for agricultural tools, and the use of synthetic fertilizers have resulted in increased greenhouse gas emissions in the last five years.
According to the current research database, practices such as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), Alternate wetting and drying (AWD), and lower synthetic fertilizer usage can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation. (SRI) is a rice cultivation method that intensively controls and manages macro and micronutrients as well as irrigation. Likewise, (AWD) is a water-efficient practice that reduces irrigation water consumption.
Since 2020, lowering greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector is possible in Indonesia due to adopting climate-smart agricultural practices. The climate strategy of the agricultural sector aims to achieve self-sufficiency and farmer welfare along with the reduction of GHG emissions. The Indonesian Agency of Agriculture Research and Development (IAARD) has implemented various climate practices and technologies as follows: (1) the development of plant varieties resistant to climate stress and plant pest; (2) the development of a planting calendar adjustment system that takes climate change into account; (3) development of water-balance modelling and plant nutrition on agricultural land, and a geographic information system for distribution points of nutrients and water; and (4) development of efficient agricultural equipment and machinery for agricultural production processes. With the development of above mentioned innovative agricultural techniques, the path towards net zero emissions looks promising in the agricultural sector in Indonesia.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Indonesia Country Manager Netra Naik