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History of Sugar Industry in Fiji

  • Date Submitted: 06/17/2012 11:14 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 50.3 
  • Words: 1193
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Sugar cane is thought to be indigenous to the islands of the South Pacific. It was found growing in Fiji by the early European discoverers and settlers. Fijians grew sugar cane for chewing and they are known to have used the juice for sweetening food.
The first sugar produced in Fiji was made on the island of Wakaya by Mr. David Whippy in 1862. In 1872 Brewer and Jsoske erected a small experimental sugar mill in Suva, followed by a larger mill a year later. About 640 acres of cane were planted on the site now largely occupied by the City of Suva.
Because of sugar's importance today, many people are often surprised to learn it was the second choice to cotton when early Fiji planters decided which crop would bring them the most money.
Cotton production in the United States slumped during the civil war of the early 1860's and world markets opened to new producers. Prospects for cotton growing in Fiji looked bright. Cotton enterprises in Fiji began to fail when the civil war ended and American plantations began to recover.
Fiji turned to sugar about 1870 and 1883 the crop had displaced copra as the country's main export-the position it has held to this day. An early boost to the sugar industry came from Ratu Cakobau, who was worried about a decline in Fiji's economy because of internal strife and cotton's failure. In December 1871, Ratu Cakobau offered 500 pounds sterling for "the first and best" crop of 20 tons of sugar produced from locally grown cane.
In 1879 the British Government brought indentured laborers from India to work on cotton, coffee, sugar and other plantations. Most of them stayed on when sugar became the main crop and more Indians came to Fiji until the indenture system ended in 1916. The Indian migrants had the right of a free journey back to India, but the majority chose to stay in Fiji. Today, most of this country's cane growers are descendants of those early indentured laborers.
Fiji's first sugarcane was grown on the plantation...

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