Nine sugar producers have taken up a government invitation to invest in sugar plantations in Merauke, West Papua Province in Indonesia.
A report by Jakarta Globe quotes a senior official from the Ministry of Agriculture saying the move is a step forward in Indonesia's goal to reduce its dependence on imported raw sugar.
The newspaper quotes the Ministry's Director General of Plantations, Achmad Mangga Barani, saying a yet-to-be finalized arrangement will have four companies producing refined sugar for industry needs and five producing for direct consumption.
He did not mention the total value of the investment, saying the companies still needed to verify land quality and confirm the areas were not held under traditional title.
According to the Agriculture Ministry's website, the companies may seek to occupy more than 114,000 hectares, but at this stage the government has only offered 90,000 hectares.