Indonesia has put back the target date for self-sufficiency in sugar by a year to 2008, according to the Jakarta Post.

It put annual household consumption at 2.5m tonnes of sugar, while sugar output this year is projected to reach a maximum of 2.2m tonnes,

Minister of Agriculture Anton Apriyantono said on Monday that the projected output would not be enough to meet the domestic total demand of 3.3 million tonnes, including some 800,000 tonnes for industrial refinery needs.

The projected demand figure came from the Indonesian Sugar Council (DGI), which said that industrial refinery needs are traditionally fulfilled through imports.

"We need an additional output of at least one million tonnes. Looking at the current trend, we cannot achieve the original target of household sugar self-sufficiency in 2007," Anton said on the sidelines of a joint hearing with several House of Representatives commissions.

To produce the additional one million tonnes of sugar as much new farmland as 120,000 hectares would be required, the locations of which, he said, would be spread across the country, including in Merauke, Papua.

The ministry expects the plantation sector as a whole to grow from an estimated 6.01% this year to 6.49% in 2009, it said in its five-year plan document made available to The Jakarta Post.

Based on past trends, the ministry has targeted sugar output to reach 2.85 million tonnes in 2009, up by an average 7.09% annually from this year's official estimation of 2.16 million tonnes.

Assuming that the annual household sugar consumption remains at around 2.5 million tonnes, the country would enjoy a surplus in 2008, when output is predicted to reach 2.66 million tonnes.

During the presentation at Monday's hearing, the government said it had calculated that the agriculture sector would need an annual working capital of 3.7 trillion rupiahs (US$389.47m) by 2007 to support three main activities in boosting output.

The activities are rehabilitating or replanting sugarcane plantations, upgrading sugar factories and increasing investment to develop sugarcane derivatives products and new processing plants outside Java.

In the meantime, the government will keep regulating sugar imports, the system and procedure of which will be evaluated in the near future.

Anton said the government was considering the involvement of more listed importers in meeting the domestic demand, through a bidding system and dispersing importers based on target provinces.

Minister of trade Mari E. Pangestu confirmed that the government would review the sugar import limitations. She said she would review the need for the implementation of such a system after the country reached sugar self-sufficiency.