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Sugar industry of Mauritius

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**Historical Evolution of the Sugar Industry in Mauritius:**
– Dutch, French, and British occupations influenced sugar production
– Introduction of sugar cane, modern mills, and technological advancements
– Abolition of slavery and consolidation of the industry during British rule
– Impact of independence on sugar exports and industry rationalization

**Economic Significance of the Sugar Industry in Mauritius:**
– Key pillar of the Mauritian economy contributing significantly to GDP
– Major source of employment and crucial for export earnings
– Known for high-quality sugar production with a long cultural history
– Diversification of the economy post-independence due to sugar industry’s role

**Current State of Sugar Production in Mauritius:**
– Favorable climate for sugar cane cultivation supporting modern mills
– Main sugar mills include Omnicane, Terra, and Alteo
– Production of various sugar products for export with government support
– Research institutes aiding in technological advancements for sugar production

**Challenges Faced by the Sugar Industry in Mauritius:**
– Impact of global market fluctuations on sugar prices
– Risks from climate change affecting sugar cane cultivation
– Competition from other sugar-producing countries influencing Mauritius
– Labor issues, mechanization, and need for economic diversification

**Future Prospects and Innovations in the Mauritius Sugar Industry:**
– Exploration of sustainable practices and research for improved yields
– Government initiatives supporting modernization and technological advancements
– Adaptation to global trends and consumer demands for sugar products
– Embracing innovations to enhance efficiency and competitiveness in the industry

The growing of sugar cane has been the dominant industry of Mauritius for most of its inhabited period. The island was totally uninhabited when first discovered by the Portuguese in 1507. Sugar was introduced during the period of Dutch Mauritius (1638–1710) mostly to make Arak and slaves were imported to work on sugar cane and other crops. After about 1735, during the period of French Mauritius (1715–1810), under the French East India Company, the industry developed considerably. In 1735 there were 638 slaves in a population of 838 inhabitants. Thereafter, some 1,200 to 1,300 slaves arrived annually; within five years the number of slaves had quadrupled to 2,612 and the number of French had doubled.

Where the Dutch had failed, the French

The island was invaded during the Napoleonic Wars, and in British Mauritius (1810–1968) sugar remained the mainstay of the economy. Slavery was gradually abolished over several years after 1833, and the planters ultimately received two million pounds sterling in compensation for the loss of their slaves, who had been imported from Africa and Madagascar during the French occupation. New labour was now mostly indentured labourers from India to work in the sugar cane fields. Between 1834 and 1921, around half a million indentured labourers were on the island. Production grew steadily, from 467 tons in 1812 to 140,000 tons in 1890, and 415,000 in 1949, although at intervals large cyclones and an introduced insect species set back production considerably.

The sugar magnates, mostly French and Mauritian Creoles, dominated Mauritian civil life, until challenged in the 1910s in a period of political agitation. The rising middle class (made up of doctors, lawyers, and teachers) began to challenge the political power of the sugar cane landowners. Dr. Eugène Laurent, mayor of Port Louis, was the leader of this new group; his party, Action Libérale, demanded that more people should be allowed to vote in the elections. Action Libérale was opposed by the Parti de l'Ordre, led by Henri Leclézio, the most influential of the sugar magnates.

The 1914–1918 war was a period of great prosperity, due to a boom in sugar prices. In 1919, the Mauritius Sugar Syndicate came into being, which included 70% of all sugar producers. But in the years after the war prices slumped considerably and the power of the magnates was curtailed. Independence came in 1968, since when the economy has great diversified, with in 2019 raw sugar representing only 7.8 of exports, far less than textiles and clothing, and a good deal less than fish products.

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