You are on page 1of 10

Acknowledgement

I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to my parents and teacher


for assisting and supporting me throughout this project.

Rationale
1

Cuba became the main sugar producer in the Caribbean in the


late 1800s because they had rich fertile soil and large land,
advanced mechanism and equipment, the continuance of slave
labourers, indentured immigrants, wider available market,
received foreign investment and centralization of factories.
The measures taken to restore prosperity in the British Caribbean
were the introduction of new markets, technological changes,
steam power centralized factories and estates, amalgamation of
estates, introduction of new equipment, railways and the wider
variety of cane.
The researcher chose this topic to obtain extended knowledge on
the magnificent sugarcane production in the Cuba and the
measures which were taken by the British Caribbean to restore
prosperity to the sugarcane industry in the Caribbean.

Introduction
Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba is an island country in the
Caribbean. Cuba was a colony of Spain until the Spanish
American War of 1898, after which it was briefly administered by
the United States until gaining nominal independence in 1902.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and it is the secondmost populous after Hispaniola. Cuba was once the world's largest
sugar exporter. Until the 1960s, the US received 33% of their
sugar imports from Cuba.

Area of Research
What are the reasons that were responsible for Cuba becoming
the main sugar producer in the Caribbean in the late 1800s and
the measures taken to restore prosperity to the sugar industry in
the British Caribbean in the late 1800s?

Part 1: What are the reasons that were responsible for Cuba
becoming the main sugar producer in the Caribbean in the late
1800s?
The former Spanish colony, Cuba managed to expand sugar
cultivation in the nineteenth century. Cuba was able to increase
export by more than three thousand per cent between 1800 and
1914.Cuba was able to become the main sugar producer in the
Caribbean in the late 1800s because of various reasons.
Virgin Soil and Size
Cuba had rich fertile soils which made it perfect for the cultivation
of sugarcane. The land was dominated by rolling plains, with rich
soil and it is also the largest island in the Caribbean. It also had
adequate rainfall.
Mechanism and Equipment
Another major reason which was responsible for their success in
the sugar industry was that they were mechanized. They had
machineries such as steam engines. The steam power was
introduced to Cuba in 1797 and was used in the 1800s. The steam
power replaced the old animal mills and water/wind mills and
helped producers to get more canes to be crushed in the same
amount of time. The first steam mills were in operation from
1819. They also had vacuum pans which allowed enabled juice to
be boiled at a lowered temperature. Railways were also
introduced in Cuba. This enabled the labourers to live away from
the plantation. It also allowed for faster and greater
transportation of canes from the fields to the mills.
Slave Labourers
Until 1886 Cuba had slave Labour. This gave them an advantage
since slavery was already abolished in the British West Indies.
Cuba therefore had the advantage of a free labour force. The
5

output per slave was estimated at between three to six tons per
slave compared to the one ton per slave in the British West Indies
and Cuba had a population of about three hundred and fifty
thousand slaves in 1850.
Indentured Immigrants
Cuba relied on imported Chinese Immigrant labour between 1825
and 1874 since they had expanded. They worked for very long
hours on an eight years contract. They were well suited for the
mechanized industry of Cuba.
Wider Market
Cubans were also given access to markets which were previously
dominated by the British colonized producers due to the British
Free Trade Policy. This created a larger market for them to trade.
Foreign Investment
The Cuban sugar industry was severely affected from1868
to1878, the period of the Civil War, then they suffered because of
the abolition of slavery. The competition with beet sugar on the
Spanish market also had a devastating effect on them along with
their fight for independence. The war brought destruction to many
sugar mills. This experience led to the greatest advantages of all;
there was fast foreign investment, from where most were from
the United States of America, and this allowed the sugar
producers to increase their output and consolidate the industry.
Centralized Factories
Also in the 1880s many planters were forced to sell their
plantations due to economic hardship. Abandoned or/and
indebted plantations were bought by some US companies whose
aims were to take advantage of the situation. In 1895 this change
in ownership was apparent. The factories were re-organized and
centralized by the new plantation owners. The number of centrals
had been decreased from 1,191 in 1877 to 470 in 1895. There
were only two hundred and fifty mills in 1895, a decrease from
one thousand three hundred and eighteen which was present in
6

1860. The reduction in the number of mills led to an increase in


production in Cuba. In 1860 the output of sugar was five hundred
and fifteen thousand tons and in 1895 the output had doubled to
a million tons.
Cuba also benefited from economies of scale. Unlike the eastern
Caribbean there was enough land for sugar. Estates were
therefore large and were able to achieve economies of scale.

Part 2: What were the measures taken to restore prosperity to


the sugar industry in the British Caribbean in the late 1800s?
The British Caribbean was using typical seventeenth century
methods in the nineteenth century. The British Caribbean took
many measure to restore prosperity in the 1800s. Some of the
measures which were taken included:
New Market
The colonial producers in the Caribbean was forced to look for
different markets because of the competition in the British
market. In 1884 they were selling about fifty per cent of their
output to the United States of America. However Cuban and
Puerto Rican sugar dominated the US market, so they had to look
for other markets. In 1897 Canada agreed to give the British
Colonized Caribbean sugar lower custom taxes on their market.
Canada provided an outlet for the British Colonized Caribbean
sugar.
Technological Changes
New technology created larger mills and factories and allowed
new and more efficient equipment to be used in sugar factories.
7

Steam Power
By the end of the 1800s to the 1900s steam engines were used in
many territories to drive the machine in the factories. The steam
power replaced the old animal mills and water/wind mills and
helped producers to get more canes to be crushed thus saving
time.
Central Factories and Estates
Instead of each estates having its own factory, central factories
were created to service several estates. The centralized factories
were established in the 1840s by the French Colonized
Caribbean territories. This change was gradual. However in
Trinidad between 1896 and 1917 the number dropped from thirty
nine to fourteen.
Amalgamation of Estates
This was whereby, smaller estates amalgamated into bigger
working units. Estates were turned into limited companies. This
process reduced the number of estates in the territories that still
grew sugar on a fairly large scale. Amalgamation involved the
combination of cane areas so that a larger supply could be
provided for one central factories. This amalgamation took place
earliest in Guyana and Trinidad. In colonial Guyana, the
amalgamation of sugar plantations under large British firms
started form the year 1840. Joining of irrigation systems and the
pooling of machines was the result. Diamond estate (in Colonial
Guyana) was a result of five estates uniting.
New Equipment
Research in the Beet sugar industry and refineries in Europe
introduced and designed the idea of new equipment. The vacuum
pan and the centrifugal dryer were to significant types of
equipment. The vacuum pan economized on fuel and helped to
reduce the boiling point of cane juice. In 1832 on the Estate in
Vreed en Hoop in Colonial Guyana the first vacuum pan was
installed. Majority of Trinidads sugar was produced by the
8

vacuum pan by 1895. Centrifugal Driers were placed in large


estates which used steam engines. This not only increased the
amount of sugar produced but also made it easier to separate the
sugar crystals from the molasses.
Railways
Railways had an enormous impact on transportation within the
plantation sector. This enabled the labourers to live away from
the plantation. It also allowed for faster and greater
transportation of canes from the fields to the mills.
Wider Variety of Cane
The Caribbean sugar industry were able to overcome the
challenges because of the introduction of newer and better
varieties of cane. At the end of the 1800s it was discovered that
sugar cane can produce more fertile seeds. Also by the 1890s
which were more resistant to diseases were discovered. These
two discoveries created great merits to the industry.
There were other efforts made to maintain the sugar industry.
These included seasonal labourers to reduce the cost of
production and large scale importing of indentured servants. Also
the British government helped the colonies by giving them loans
to import indentured servants.
Conclusion
It can be concluded that because of the abundance of natural
resources, foreign investment from the US, and the Free Trade
Policy Cuba became the main sugar producer in the Caribbean. It
was the priority and special treatment given to the British
Caribbean in the British market nevertheless the cost was high
sugar colonies in the British Caribbean were always protected.

Bibliography

Beckles, Hilary McD & Shepherd Verne Freedoms Won


Caribbean Emancipation, Ethnicities and Nationalhood.

10