Indonesia has started cloud seeding to induce rain as the archipelago moves to head off annual forest fires blamed for blanketing swathes of Southeast Asia in toxic haze.
Last year’s fires were the worst since 2015 due to dry weather, with some 1.6 million hectares of land, mostly on Sumatra and Borneo islands, razed by the out-of-control blazes.
Authorities deployed tens of thousands of personnel and water-bombing aircraft to tackle the fires, which are intentionally set to clear land for agriculture.
Over the past two weeks, Indonesia has started cloud seeding – a technique that uses chemicals to induce rain – in hotspot Riau province on Sumatra, with plans to roll it out in other parts of the island and in Borneo.
The operations were to last throughout the dry season, which is expected to end around September.
According to our predictions, the dry season this year will not be as bad as it was last year … but we never know” for sure, Seto said