Indonesia targets sugar self-sufficiency in 5 yrs, eyes ethanol production

(Reuters) - Indonesia will expand its sugar plantation area to try to become self-sufficient in the next five years and is eyeing development of renewable sugar-based ethanol afterwards, President Joko Widodo said.

While inspecting a sugarcane plantation owned by ethanol producer Energy Agro Nusantara, controlled by state plantation firm PTPN X, the president said he aims to expand Indonesia's sugar cultivation area to 1.73 MM acres.

"If we could really prepare 700,000 hectares, we will be self-sufficient in sugar in the next five years. And I will prepare the 700,000 hectares," he said.

Indonesia currently has 180,000 hectares of sugarcane plantations, said Jokowi, as the president is popularly known.

The country of 270 MM people is among the world's biggest importers of raw sugar.

"Once this is achieved, some of the sugar can be made, whether via making molasses or directly, into ethanol, which we will begin with E5," Jokowi said, referring to a blend of up to 5% ethanol with fossil fuel.

The program could later be expanded to use a higher blend like E10 or E20, much like how Indonesia has increased the mix of palm oil-based biofuel into its diesel fuel, called B30, Jokowi said, without giving a timeframe.

Indonesia, the world's biggest producer and exporter of palm oil, is currently conducting a road test for B40.

(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Martin Petty)

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