Merauke, South Papua (ANTARA) - Vice President Ma'ruf Amin has voiced support for the development of South Papua province as a sugar industry center considering that national sugar needs are still supported by imports, which are increasing every year.

"In 2023, our sugar import amounted to six million tons. In 2045, our population is estimated to reach 300 million people. Thus, we need Merauke to become a center for agriculture and plantations, including sugar cane," he said after reviewing the Sermayam Sugarcane Plantation area in Merauke district, South Papua, on Tuesday.

Amin expressed the hope that the plantations in Merauke will be successful and produce sugar cane with a sugar content of more than 11 percent, like in Australia.

"Our sugar cane production in East Java is only able to generate sugar content of 6–7 percent. I hope the sugar cane project in Merauke can be successful, besides rice production," he said.

Meanwhile, the project leader of PT Global Papua Abadi (GPA), Totok Lestyo, informed that a sugar and bioethanol factory will be built in the Sermayam Sugar Cane Plantation area.

Moreover, in 2025–2029, the region is projected to become a center for agriculture, plantations, maritime affairs, and tourism, he added.

Regarding the development of sugar cane plantations, Lestyo said that Merauke region is relatively new to sugar cane cultivation, therefore it needs superior stems from East Java and Australia brought by his party.

"We will look for which stems are suitable for the climate, temperature, and rainfall in Merauke," he added.

The development of the Sermayam Sugar Cane Plantation area has been included in the list of National Strategic Projects (PSNs) to support the acceleration of national sugar self-sufficiency and the development of bioethanol as biofuel.

The plantation area managed by PT GPA spans 506 hectares and has an investment value of Rp53.8 trillion (US$3.2 billion).

GPA is also building laboratory facilities at the nursery location to support research and tissue culture to produce superior and quality sugar cane stems. The lab will also function as a sugarcane research center.

GPA is collaborating with Sugar Research Australia and the Indonesian Sugar Plantation Research Center (P3GI) to obtain superior stems that suit Merauke soil.

The company is also collaborating with educational institutions in Merauke to provide training to new graduates and local staff.

The selected stems will be planted in the GPA plantation area in the Jagebob area of Merauke district, where land clearing is currently on.

Commercial sugar cane production will be developed in 2025–2026. The GPA sugar plantation factory is expected to start operating in 2027 with production on target.

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Translator: Benardy Ferdiansyah, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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