Sugar Essay

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Introduction During the sixteenth to seventeenth century British West Indian planters cultivated crops such as coffee, tobacco, cotton and indigo. Of which tobacco was the main export crop, they prospered immensely. This was so for several reasons first it was in high demand in Europe, secondly it was in high demand in Europe and fetched a high price it was also not bulky and could easily be shipped. It was not until the middle of the seventeenth century that tobacco began to decline due to the fall in tobacco prices and competition from other tobacco producers mainly tobacco. Therefore an alternative crop had to be sourced thus resulting in the introduction of sugar cane. Due to numerous reasons such as they needed a sweetener for beverages, it was not a perishable crop and could be transported easily. Sugar cane is a commodity which is used worldwide today and this essay seeks to divulge in its early cultivation and processing in the British West Indies. The cultivation of sugarcane in the British West Indies evolved during the 18th century its cultivation was done using two methods these were trenching and holing. Trenching was digging of long trenches in the farm of double rows, and covering the trenches with dirt. The plants took approximately 12 week to mature to a height of two feet. The second method was that of holing which was the most common method employed by planters during the 18 century. The method employed the digging of holes in a straight line approximately five to nine inches deep and around five square feet. Planting was an arduous task and took a vast amount of manual labour which consisted of enslaved Africans the labour was divided as the slaves worked in pairs to complete the task which included digging holes (100 in 10hrs) a quota which they had to meet. Animal dung was a common form of manure used to fertilize the crop.

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