JAKARTA (REUTERS) – Indonesia will expand the cultivation of sorghum and corn to help secure grain supplies, with global imports of wheat disrupted by the war in Ukraine, a senior Cabinet minister said Thursday (Aug 4).

Indonesia mostly consumes rice as a staple food, but it is among the world’s biggest importers of wheat, which it uses for household consumption and animal feed.

The country is preparing 115,000ha of land for 2023 and another 154,000ha for 2024 to cultivate sorghum, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto told a virtual media briefing.

South-east Asia’s biggest country currently has around 4,300ha of land under sorghum cultivation, producing 15,000 tonnes of the grain as of June.

Mr Airlangga noted that a number of countries had imposed export restrictions on wheat this year to secure their own domestic supplies during the Ukraine war.

“Therefore, we have to produce substitutes for wheat,” he said, adding that, other than sorghum, Indonesia could also increase production of sago and cassava.

Mr Airlangga said sorghum could also be used for animal feed and to produce bio-ethanol.

Earlier this week, Mr Airlangga said the authorities would increase production of corn, by expanding cultivation in some eastern provinces such as Papua, West Papua and North Maluku.

The government would also distribute better quality corn seeds to help increase yields to 13 tonnes per hectare, up from an average of 5 tonnes per hectare now.