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Residents endure hours-long lines outside local police stations as food crisis looms: 'We had no other choice'

"By the time we got here it was already busy."

"By the time we got here it was already busy."

Photo Credit: iStock

Dry weather conditions fueled by the El Niño weather pattern have led to a rice shortage in Indonesia, Context reported. As a result, residents have had to wait in line for hours outside police stations to take advantage of a government program that supplies them with discounted rice.

What is happening?

Since the 1980s, much of Indonesia's farmland has been replaced by housing development. That, combined with heat and dryness from the El Niño, led rice production to fall by 18% last year.

The seriousness of the situation was apparent from the long lines outside the police stations. One housewife told reporters that she woke up before dawn to avoid the lines, to no avail.

"By the time we got here it was already busy, we still had to queue. We had no other choice because the price of rice in the market is very expensive," she said.

Why is this concerning?

El Niño refers to specific climate patterns that take place in the Pacific Ocean every two to seven years when warm surface water releases excess heat into the atmosphere. The already extreme weather conditions caused by this phenomenon have been greatly exacerbated by the overheating of our planet.

Indonesia, which is made up of over 17,000 islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, has been massively affected. In addition to the rice shortages, experts worry that El Niño conditions could cause the country's Eternity Glaciers to disappear entirely.

What is being done about it?

In addition to providing discounted rice, the Indonesian government could attempt to address the crisis by investing in improving irrigation infrastructure to reduce dependence on rainfall. 

The country is also encouraging citizens to turn to other sources of carbohydrates other than rice — a tall order, as rice is a crucial part of Indonesian culture. The government's attempts to grow more cassava has also come with its own problems.

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