“THE HISTORY OF SUGAR IS A DEBATE ABOUT POLITICS, SCIENCE, ECONOMY AND SOCIETY IN A REMOTE COLONY LIKE MAURITIUS” WITH REFERENCE TO THE 19TH CENTURY MAURITIUS
The 18th century was marked by the fights between British, French and Dutch to control the sugar and slave trade, the two most profitable activities in the region. The repeated attacks on the British commercial ships by French corsairs and pirates made the British take over Mauritius. In 1810 Mauritius became a British colony. However, the British found themselves with a complex situation, which differentiated Mauritius from their other colonies. Why was it so difficult for the British to administer the island? What made Mauritius geographically, administratively and culturally so different?
Mauritius was Britain’s only colony East of the Cape of Good Hope and it did not fit in the geographical areas mapped out by the British for administrative purposes. It could not be considered as part of East Africa or South Asia as it was historically and culturally different. In Mauritius the British were confronted with a large settler populations of European descent, hostile to British rule, laws and institutions. Furthermore the capitulation act made it even more difficult for the British to impose its legal system. The consequences were that the British Governors, like Farquhar, the first governor, for example had to turn a blind eye on the enforcement of laws like the abolition of slave trade and many amelioration in the slave system, and this, unfortunately in complete opposition to the politics of the British administration
Has the distance with England and the resulting isolation of Mauritius played an important part in the difficulty for the British to administer the island?
It seems that the remoteness of Mauritius had indeed played a determining role in the obstacles encountered by the British for the proper running of the island. Mauritius was, at first, administered as a Crown Colony but from 1815 and would onwards be administered by the Colonial Office, itself a branch of the Department for War and Colonies, which also administered colonies, acquired from France and Spain. It should be remembered that Mauritius was not yet a ‘sugar colony’ and thus could not be classed with the West Indians islands. Administrators in England had little detailed and up to date information on Mauritius. French colonists often bypassed the Colonial Office and intervened with the crown or with politicians in England directly.
Which were the laws, which the French colonist opposed more vehemently? How would land, labour and capital be used to build a trivial mono-crop economy in the 19th century Mauritius a British colony? How could politics help to set the scene for the sugar economy? How would science help to increase in the sugar yield, how would the economy help to find market for the product and finally how would society be determined by the sugar economy and provide the setting to accommodate all the rest for the glory of the mono-crop economy but also for the glory of the British empire?
To be able to grasp fully the history of sugar in the 19th century it should be divided into three important periods. The first period would be between 1810 and 1834, between the time where the British took over Mauritius and made slave trade illegal opening the door to the abolition of slavery and the arrival of the first Indian coolies. A second period which covers 1835 to mid 1860’s, the time of sugar boom and a thriving economy before the sugar decline caused both by natural calamities and fluctuations of the international market. And a third period which covers 1861 to 1900 the period covering the centralization of sugar production in factories leading to the “Grand Morcellement” and the emergence of small planters. In each of the three periods it will be studied how politics, science economy and society played their part.
This section would deal with how the combination of land, labour, capital would achieved to set the basis for a mono-crop economy between 1810 and 1834, between the time where the British took over Mauritius and made slave trade illegal which would later bring about the abolition of slavery and the arrival of the first Indian coolie.
Firstly, it would be seen how politics had helped to set the scene for a mono-crop economy? In 1810 – 1814 after the treaty of Paris, the British would have permanent control over the isle De France. . They would return and harbourless Reunion to the French made only minor changes to Mauritian political system… The first the British would use Port Louis as a post as the French had done. If the Franco had continued they could have develop a diversified economy. But the British rule was unable to support a diversified economy so they would completely transform the economic system of the island.
Prior to 1810 the Mauritian privateers and the French naval squadron captured more than 500 British and allied prizes and there were worth at least 80 million gold Francs. But with the formal cooperation of Mauritius in British Empire would bring an end to the island’s role of an important entrepot. They would implement the protectionist policies in adopting the navigation acts of 1815. The navigation law prohibited British colonies from trading with foreign merchants.
As from 1810 the island had 9,000 to 10,000 acres of land under sugar cane, this surface increased during the first year of British rule. But it will not be until the late 1920’s that sugar would dominate the island’s economy. In 1813 the British will adopt the Proclamation of 4th January 1813. They will repeal all the existing laws previously passed by the French administration. The parliament passed trade bill in 1825 allowing Mauritian sugar to compete on an equal footing with the West Indian sugar new stimulus was given to the expansion of the sugar industry.
Concerning labour the British policies would be to abolish slave trade. Though the act to abolish this trade was the first of such legislation, passed with the aim that with the gradual reduction in the number of slaves, with the forecast that slavery would die a natural death. The immediate effect of the abolition of the slave trade 1815 was a reduction in the supply of slave labour. Those reforms involving slavery, the removal of privileges of the judiciary and those touching on language and religion caused most opposition. Fears concerning British rule and policies, the fear of ostracism from their own community and the fact that they were nearly all large owners of slaves with much to lose from amelioration or ending of the slave trade, prevented any of them from identifying or supporting British policy wholeheartedly.
Proposed amelioration laws in the 1820’s sent further shock waves throughout the island, thus while West Indian Colonies were already anticipating and preparing for the ending of slavery. In Mauritius even after 1835 colonists were still expecting slavery to be reestablished. Despite sugar expansion, some slaves had managed to forge the semblance of a family and community life, achieved improved material standards and a certain measure of physical mobility. However, Governor Farquhar wanted to expand British policies in the Indian Ocean and to achieve this, greater influence in Madagascar was essential. Slaves continued to be brought from Madagascar as an integral part of policy of British expansion and of supplying Mauritius with provisions. Thus in Mauritius illegal slave trading continued and the British governor himself quietly ignoring all the disguised attempts to introduce slaves into the island
Did the fact that Mauritius was turned into a sugar colony helped in better management of the colony or not? After 1825 the year of the trade bill both the prices of slaves and the sales of slaves shot up dramatically and continued to rise. Though there was existence of free labour which was costly, it became the practice to hire slave labour where they could be more effectively used or retaining them where they should not have been retained. All policies pertaining abolition of slavery created great controversies The weaving of the ‘web’ of economic, political and socio-racial interest began in the rural districts.
The combination of sugar interests and political power created situation where the main sugar producing regions produced active, vocal radical planter/politicians. In 1827, the ‘Comite Colonial’ was formed led by Adrien D’Epinay. Organized resistance started in 1829 and reached climax in 1834. It was the emergence of the planters as an active force in local national politics, in high finance and in the Judiciary. There were now pressing demands “to be relieved from the duty on the importation of their sugar into Great Britain for consumption”1. However, the capitulation treaty of 1787 guaranteed the maintenance of the privilege of free trade.
So on 5 June 1824, Bathurst gave two alternatives to the Mauritian. Either to continue to enjoy free trade with foreign powers or have the same limitation as the West Indian Trade with Europe. They chose the second alternative. The conditions were sugar, coffee and other articles of growth of Mauritius would be charged the same duties as the West Indies after 1st January 1825. No foreign sugar was to be allowed in Mauritius. It was also convened that further measures were to be taken to prevent the introduction of slaves into the island. And finally that commercial relations between Mauritius and Europe were to be subjected to the same limitations as that between the British West Indies and Europe. Thus the political foundation for making the island a mono-crop economy was laid.
How had science helped in laying the foundation of the sugar economy? In the beginning of the 19th century sugar cane was grown on only a few large estate and a multitude of smaller, family owned ones where growing and milling was integrated into the estate and primitive technology used. The advent of British rule was a drastically transform the economy, society and political life of Mauritius The sugar industry really started in Mauritius after 1815 with British rule and only then did it begin to resemble more modern plantation system.
Sugar really took off until better methods of irrigation and communication were developed in the second half of the nineteenth century. Proliferation of water and steam mills replaced mills driven by animal and slave power. However, few changes were made in the cultivation processes, which remained very primitive. Slaves continued to perform the most laborious tasks on the plantation despite the increasing pressure on estates with steam and watermills to produce more sugar cane by extending cultivation. The use of steam and water mills increased rapidly with the number of steam mill jumping from 7 to 51 and consequently raising the output of sugar considerably from 87 to 137 tons. This is reflected in the rise of horses the preference of the Mauritian sugar planters. Methods of cultivating and processing the crop were slow to change. Cultivation of sugar in Mauritius required a very large number of labourers. Much of the labour was heavy, monotonous, grinding work especially at harvest time. Delay meant a fall in the quality of sugar.
As for the investment for greater sugar yield there was the necessity to look for better varieties which were achieved through the use of hybrids. Therefore since the 1830’s almost all canes in commercial cultivation have been hybrid crosses of the Noble Officianarum and Spontaneum. Hundred years ago cane cultivation and selection started in New Guinea. It was there where they grew sugarcane for chewing and ornamentation. From New Guinea people have learned how to propagate this S. Officianarrum. The cane was subjected to mutations through hybrids and change the characteristics of the Sugar cane for greater yield and that would grow faster and more. Cloning works well in the case of sugar, it consist of cutting a piece of cane planting in ground and went for it “bouture’
Now we are going to see how the economy had brought in its fold land, labour and capital to transform an economy based on free trade and diversified agriculture to a mono-crop economy. Henceforth, the pace of expansion of the sugar industry would be regular and would continue till the mid of the 19th century. Land, labour and capital would be the principal factors would shape the sugar island. Between 1824 and 1828 all traditional cash crops, coffee, indigo, ebony and cloves had been overtaken by sugar.
As it is seen in this table there as been a marked declined in all other crops at the expense of sugar cane. Though sugar already dominated the plantation scene in 1824 coffee, cloves, cotton and ebony were still highly produced. However in 1825 coffee would experience a decline of 50%, while cotton would know a steady decrease, the same would apply to indigo, however cloves would know a steady increase from 5,839 pounds produced at a value of 5,840 pounds sterling to 9,370 pounds with a value of only 467 pound sterling thus accusing a decline in price. Ebony would have an increased in value in 1826 despite the decline in production but both the decline in production and value would continue in 1828 to 502,906 pounds produced for the market value of only 2185 pounds sterling. As for sugar there has been a regular pace in it’s gaining both in market value as a crash crop and in production. From 24,334,553 pound in 1824 with a value of 170, 342 it increased to a production of 21,739,766 in 1825 with a value of 184,788 and in 1828 reached a production of 48,350,101 with a market value of 512,717 pound sterling.
In the acreage of crops grown wood grown would occupy 108.418 acres as compared to sugar only 10 221 acres, however in 1829 the acreages under wood would be 91.817 and 48.485 for sugar this tendency would increase and sugar would occupy in 1835 approximately 50% of the same acres found under wood that is 100 405 acres under wood and 57,933 acres under sugar. 3
The question concerning labour was the greatest thug of war between the British and the Franco-Mauritian. Before 1815 colonist used slaves less for profit than for convenience. Those slaves who were employed in agriculture mainly work in manioc and subsistence cultivation. The lack of interest on the part of the French colonist in agriculture was partly due to the possibilities of easy money. They were more interested in quick profits from more lucrative and less time consuming activities such as slaves trades, spices and other goods as well as corsairs activities.
However, the abolition of slavery in contrast with other sugar colonies, which would experience declines, would have no incidence on the expansion of the Mauritian cultivation. The production was increased in two ways by increasing the land under cultivation and by improving production yield. In 1825 the year of the trade bill the production was 217,397, in 1826 a year after the trade bill Mauritius exported 18,970 tons of sugar and in 1827, two years after the bill the production would nearly doubled to 406,192 and this tendency would go on increasing till in 1935 the year after abolition of slavery the production would increase to 648,545 tons. ( Pp82/83 Bitter sugar).
What made the British support the monocrop-economy was that it did not want to have a financial burden to the empire for the island met with some dramatic incidents. The 1815 navigation act caused much trouble to the people on the island for the island was a lucrative market for goods produced elsewhere.
In 1816 a disastrous fire broke out in the capital and destroyed large part of commercial sector. Half the town was destroyed. The richest and most prosperous streets and ‘ magazines filled with provisions and merchandise from every quarter of the world and with colonial produce”4 were all gone in the winds. A loan of $30,000(Spanish) to merchants was issued to counter effects of the fire. Farquhar approved another massive loan to merchants $75,000 to the bank of Mauritius which had stopped making cash payment because of inflation and $75,000 to four merchants.
By 1820 the island was plunged in a financial crisis Farquhar noted that’ inhabitants had extended sugar cultivation and there were already some valuable sugar estates’ 5.
From 1811 to 1850 Barclays and Blyth held ¾ of the sugar estates with capital investment of approximately 1,162,000 pounds. Example Bon Acceuil for 5,500 pounds while they bought it at 30,000 pounds in 1838. 6 The Blyth company started by James Blyth , the IBL, Taylors and Smith and company., Elias Mallac and company, and Rogers and company. These capital have often been active on the social front a contributor towards further development of Mauritius of the region.
As far as land concessions were concerned only the whites had the rights and the opportunities to have lands. The Franco-Mauritian were the only land owners of the island which their ancestors or themselves have earned out as concession under the French administration. And as it has been said before the Capitulation treaty to which every now and then the Franco-Mauritian would refer to their guaranteed property right. The population was made up of the whites, the coloured free and the slaves. The Franco-Mauritian who were whites were at the top of the social ladder while the slaves would be at the bottom of the ladder.
The slaves would form the main source of labour of the island. Mauritian slave owners proved to be even more vocal and hostile at amelioration than West Indian slave owners. However, since British took over the island the condition of slaves had improved, in particular laws on enfranchisement, the use of chains and improvements in road transport. Slave owners were against registration because they were afraid the slaves might acquire civil rights. Nevertheless, slave registration did not solve the problem of the illegal trade. As there were no actual inspection of slaves these certificates given to owner and the slave owner would promptly be sold to ship captains who would attempt to catch or buy slaves matching that description. One license was used for several slave ships
In 1817 slaves were brought from other islands instead of being brought directly to Mauritius , slaves were often taken to the other islands around Mauritius and the later under license transferred to the Island. By 1820 a large number of native Africans were returned in the registers for the first time. Slaves continued to be illegally bought and sold by all sections of the slave-owning community until in the 1820.The activities of two civil commissaries, Blanchard and Vigoureux relating to illegal slave trading illustrate how it was difficult to implement British policies in 1819, the two were suspended by Governor Hall because of their complicity with slaves trades. Law ensured that an illegally landed slave became a legal slave if in possession of the claimant for three years. All these loopholes in the laws were fully exploited by the slave owners. Cholera claimed its first deaths in 1819 there were 7.000 death. Slaves carrying loads were no longer in danger of being washed away by floods during periods of heavy rain as from 1822. Carts and carriages were introduced in large numbers as were draught animals , to release slaves for other occupations and also as an ameliorative measure for slaves.
Furthermore, a reorganization of slave labour began with the increasing in demand of slaves labour in the sugar industry. Reorganization took many forms. There were the transfers of slaves from dependencies to Mauritius and within Mauritius from estates to estates, from occupation to occupation. New categories of slaves emerged like field slaves, unattached slaves etc. The practice of hiring of slave labour like in the West Indies started and finally the use of women, aged and children started. Children were engaged in poultry keeping, cattle herding, guarding fields, and domestic services assisting in cleaning and cooking and even picking up weed. All policies pertaining abolition of slavery created great controversies.
How and to what extent sugar production has had a negative impact on the lives of slaves? The mortality rate among the slave population ensuring the sugar expansion was high and even illegal trading did not seem sufficient to replace the labour lost through ageing, mortality and manumission. “the extent to which sugar is cultivated in the different sugar colonies is generally speaking a most accurate index of the rate of mortality among the slaves”. 7
Moreover the introduction of female slaves on the plantation would have great post emancipation consequences. Medium slave owners had between 39-41 percent women while small owners 39-43 percent women the disproportionately high number of male slaves on sugar estates led to severe emotional and psycho-social problems among slaves male and female in Mauritius
More recent researches on the slave family have shown that there were other family forms that existed which did not fit the western model.. Whether the slaves were creole slaves (those born on the island) or African or Malagasy-born slaves was important.. Creole slaves had a whole series of family ties and a network of relationships sometimes extending over the whole island with various types of fictive kinship, while among non Creole slaves this was inexistent. Unfortunately, there are little information on the language, music and dances they had and also very little on their cultural and social life.
The sugar industry and the government British Indian Labourer even before abolition of slavery Indian Indentured labourer came. The first came in 1825 but in 1839 the sugar industry used the compensation to bring 25,000 Indian labourer to Mauritius at their own expense paying approximately 10 pounds per immigrant. In the decade before and after emancipation, three labour system, slavery, apprenticeship and indenture emerged and succeeded each others.
Because slaves were themselves considered as goods, they were included in the capital, they were not considered as human but rather sub-human creatures which were only means of productions. Except for high deforestation because which was caused by the plantations claiming more and more land from the forests.
The second period extends from 1835 to 1860 and it marks the ranging from sugar boom to the sugar decline. If the first period was the one laying the foundation of the mono-crop economy this one would be the establishment and the strengthening of this economy into a flourishing one. Again in this part the development of land, labour and capital would be examined under the four features that have affected the mono-crop sugar economy that is; politics, science, economy and society. This period would be marked by the arrival of the indentured labourer , the establishment of different institutions to help for the establishment of the sugar industry.
How would politic shape up the destiny of the island in the years 1835 to 1860? In 1840 former slaves/apprentices departed from the estates. The Colonial Government passed numerous ordinances in order to compel the free the slaves back to the estates. For example the government reserved the right to hunt and to fish and they (together with the Franco-Mauritian) wanted to encourage the apprentice to construct houses of rocks so as to force them to stay on the estates. But this would be to no avail. The Franco-Mauritian would get compensation from the British, however, they would try to raise taxes and apply them to the ex-apprentices themselves. It was difficult to negotiate a decent salary with the employees. The employers were afraid of giving bargaining power to the ex- slaves, for that would have been considered as a lost in dignity. Higher wages given to the former slaves would also mean changes in the field production method which they could not afford because of instability in sugar market. During the 1840’s the state was not inclined to experiment this. Instead they invested their compensation money in factory improvements. This removed many incentives to pay high labour. They would receive subsidy from the government. Moreover, apprentices were considered to be natural lazy while the fact was that free slaves had bad memories of work in canfield. The apprentices would leave the estates. Nevertheless, between 1845 –1846 there was a decreased in the freed slave population.
As for the Indentured labourer, Was it a continuum of slavery? According to members of anti-slavery movement the first Indian coolies who arrived in Mauritius had no government protection. In 1837 the English India Company recognized the potential for abuse of Indentured workers and they will pass regulation to restrict the coolie trade contracts could only last 5 years and they would remain 5 years ships. Ships had to meet basic humanitarian requirements. In 1838 or 1839 to 1842 there was suspension of the coolie trade. The colonial the government assisted the Indentured labourer. In 1843 immigration reopened there was a large influx of labour financed by the an annual sum of 25,000 pounds from the colonial revenues. This was known as the Bounty scheme under this scheme government contributed 6 to 7 pounds per adult imported and planters who introduced labour paid an additional charges of 2 pounds and 2 pounds and 6 shilling for recruits from Madras and Calcutta. For the purpose of raising money for indentured labour the government imposed a consumption duty on all spirits manufactured in Mauritius or imported from abroad instead of imposing a tax on rural property owners. Again, it was on the poorest that the taxes fell.
On the other hand institutions, to strengthen the mono-crop economy, like The Mauritius Chamber of Commerce was established in January 1850, with the objective of receiving information in all matters of mercantile interest and to redress grievances. This allowed arbitration between disputants wishing to avoid litigation and willing to refer and to abide to the judgment of the Chamber. The committee role was to hear and decide on all commercial matters submitted to them, however the president ad the vice-president have the power to name a committee for the management of the affairs of the chamber and another committee for the examination of stores.
Researches with the view to increase the sugar yield as well as to make the sugar-cane more resistant to diseases were carried out. In 1840 the Oraheite, a variety of cane planted in Mauritius was attacked by bacteria the gumming disease or gummosis. The Royal Comity of Agricultural Research played a significant role in this field. In 1845 the society would form a special Committee de L’agriculture which would conduct a survey of agricultural practices. Technology had become important in the 19th century in all sugar colonies and in general the older colonies had the oldest technology. Mauritius could be considered a new island sugar estates. The Comite d’Agricutlture collected and published a corpus of knowledge about sugar cane. The Committee suggested the use of the Perusian Guano to partially offset the effect of the disease on the cane.
Hand in hand with these researches that continued on how to increase the sugar cane yield in British colony, the island was being equipped with the newest mills possessed the latest technologies, vacuum pans, centrifugal dryers were used for processing the cane faster. “Sugar production increased in the first half of the 19th century, technology improve with ” Moulin a vapeur, l’evaporation en triple effet, la cuisson sous vide, et l’essorage rapide du sucre avec des centrifuges suspendues types Weston”9
In 1832 there were no less than 32 firms in Port Louis. They brought goods like rice, ghee dholl and flour, which formed the basics for Indians diets. Sugar was in economic boom until 1860’s, the economy flourished under favorable labour conditions Indian labour lowered the cost of the use of Peruvian Guano and hence combined increased the yield of the the sugar cane which protected from the cane Borer and other pest in the 1950’s.
Despite more and more land being put under the sugar cane plantation the number of factories decreased. In 1853 Mauritius had 222 factories and in 1892 there were 104 and in 1908 only 66 remained.
How would the demand of the economy shape up the labour? There were freed slaves population of ratio 3 men to 2 women was enough to ensure population growth. The former slaves could find better work in a thriving non-estate agricultural economy. The abolition forced the elite to reconsider the methods of sugar production. The estate owners had the options of ‘d’amadouer’ the ex-slaves back on their states with competitive wages but instead they decided to get cheap indentured labour from India.
As from 1834 to 1860, 290,000 Indian arrived. The presence of this large inexpensive and reliable labour force resulted in an increase in the sugar production. Mauritius became the British most important Sugar producing colony. Contracts would be limited to one year for the next 67 years. The British assisted with immigration after 1842 boom. In 1843, 30 318 men and 4307 women would arrive in Port Louis. The Representatives of the estates. After two days they would sign the working contract 42 and a 1/2 Piastre Espagnole. The local currency. Wages of Rs 5. Per month Rs 2. =1 piastre – till the 1860’s. Immigration will continue steadily – the flow of immigrants reach islands even after the week following Northern India 1857 Rebellion to resume.
As for the capita the economy was thriving, the influx of capital was great for the amount of sugar exported represent ed 9.4% of the world production and 7.4% of the world’s total sugar production by the 1850’s.
What impact would this large labouring class have on this emerging society?
The retail trade developed in the mid 19th Century after several major events which fundamentally changed the socio-economic structure of the island. The post abolition period with of 60,000 citizens created disruption in man labour which lead to the arrival of the Indian Indentured labourers, which in their large numbers had to be provided with consumables. Various ordinances would regulate the retail shop like for example Article 21 of ordinance 28 of 1845 stressed that shops should be located not more than one feet away from the main road. The restriction of sites. The arrival of the Chinese as shopkeepers and businessman would also create a lot of opposition, however, though in very small numbers the Chinese would come and would stay.
Regarding capital, the island had to face some troubles. During the 1830’s to 1840’s there was a shrinking in investment. This transform the sugar industry in both ways, there were much problem related to labour disputes and secondly in the 1840’s more and more of the parliaments were in favour of free trades. From the perspective of British investors the British investors started to prospect and competition was not in favour of the sugar industry.
The industry have been investing and borrowing heavily to improve factory . The metropolitan bankers were not worried that Mauritian investors may not be able be able to repay the loans. In 1848 to 1844 of the 5 British financial houses collapse the following the event several sugar estates and the bank of Mauritius failed as well . It was true that the free trade legislation of 1840 undermined the sugar industry but the fact remain that between 1843 to 1849 many estates improved their factory and remain fundamentally sound enterprise. Extended funds dried up . The British investors from 1832 to 1839 and 1848 pulled out their investment from Mauritius and they presented no wish to invest in the sugar industry because of continuing economics , linguistics and legal problems.
We have now reached the third period which covers the centralization of the sugar production in the factories leading to the ‘grand morcellement’ and to the emergence of the small planters class.
In 1851 the British parliament repeal the navigation law. The law when it was repealed triple the volume of trade in Port Louis and increased amount of Capital for the local merchants / traders Britain repeal policies new free trade policies encouraged the Mauritian traders to look for markets every where in the world. Mauritius would benefit the Indian, South African and Australian markets. In 1876 Mauritius adopted the Indian Silver Rupee as its currency in order to simplify transactions.
After the navigation act of 1815 was abrogated in 1851 by Britain the number of factories in the country reached its climax by 1853 and by 1880 the necessity to centralization of production was becoming urgent. In 1849 the colonial office allowed 3 years contract for Indian Indenture Labourers. By 1858-1859 there were 74 343 immigrants. The government and the planters were cooperating to sort this problem of persistent labour shortage. Immigration declined in 1860 when the sugar demand began to decrease. but in 1862 they would return to their five years contract again, they could stay for 10 years but taxes fell heavily on those labourer who did not engage on the second year indenture. However, contact with India was possible the labourer would go to India and bring the rest of their family to Mauritius . Unfortunately, the government of Mauritius had little regard for labour and rather assisted policies that were in favour of the plantation owners.
The colonial office also increased the percentage of women. In 1844 it was 17% , in 1849 it was 25% and in 1868 it was 40%. Between 1834 to 1909 the number of immigrants who have arrived in Mauritius amounted to 451 786 to work in the sugar industry only 294,197 remained in the island and became the majority of the population.
This increased in population would dramatically change the setting of the island’s land possession when in the late 1800 up to the first world war malaria the declining of prices of sugar and the low prices of sugar forced the planters to rationalize production. A new class emerged in the Mauritian society it was the small planters who with the grand morcellemnt would enter the market and would exploit the opportunities that exist.
So the British responded by excluding most indo-Mauritian from the colonial politics. However, the Franco-planters estimated that these small planters had to pay a tax to access to cane varieties thus funding institutions into which they had politically no voice.
The government would procure in cane varieties till 1868 through the Pamplemousses garden where new plot of new varieties of cane were getting acclimated to the island, selected and distributed. Franco-Mauritian asked for more cane varieties from the government and made sure that the acquisition of new cane became top priorities. They would reimburse the money they got from the sale of their cane. Because the chamber of Agriculture researches were irrelevant to the production and distribution of the sugar industries, estates would be trained to cultivated and acquire new plat technologies. The Franco-Mauritian limited their sugar cane distribution.
In 1900 there was severe lack of capital only 13 out of 141 estates, which were over 40 hectares, belonged to foreign companies. Foreign investors were limited and all of them were British. This dramatic changes in British sugar market had great effect on Mauritius till 1930. British adhered to free trade policy. The beet-sugar from Europe were allowed to enter British market they had a subvention from their government. The British government was convinced the European sugar bounties was killing the West Indian sugar cane industries to recover and the liberation of the market would allow it to recover. The British relied primarily on Germany , Austria, Hungary for its sugar.
The out break of the first world war interrupted the trade from Germany Ostrich and Hungary. This stopped the sugar price increased because many Europe’s sugar beet farms were destroyed in the war. Sugar cane increased in all around the tropics in Cuba and Java and Mauritius.
Hence politics, whether on the national basis or international scene would have an immediate effect on the sugar market. As far as science is concerned by June 1893 the Station Agronomic operated officially under the direction of Philip Boneame. There were intensive breeding effort which included mostly agronomy, botany chemistry entomology genetics all these discipline were put together to the study of only one crop.
The Franco-Mauritian elite dominated the island politics despite the British administration this would go till independence . The sugar baron need the British colonial government because the collaboration of the British administration was needed to develop the sugar industry. In the beginning of the 1850’s they started to lobby the British government regarding cane cultivation. They needed the sugarcanes to create new knowledge about sugar to improve sugar canes and greater sucrose output. The Franco Mauritian dominated the island politics the dorsal spine being sugar the chamber of agriculture had non official seats in the government but they had vested interest in issues regarding transportation, communication marketing and forestry.
The early 1860’s the Chamber of Agriculture had thought of using the government botanical garden at Pamplemousses to import cane varieties but the government took time to decide. They wanted to transform the botanical garden into a sugar research center, however the British botanist working in the garden opposed this. While the planters were mostly French the botanist were all British.
With regard to capital the in the 1860’s there was the introduction of steam ship improved access to the outside world. The steam vessels which could carry greater volumes of cargo, during the early 1860’s the opening of the two railway lines to improve inland transport from the north to the capital from south to the capital and in 1869 the PENINSULA AND ORIENTAL CAMPAIGN established a 2nd line from England to Australia via Mauritius. The journeys were made shorter and the extension of regional network and the rise in transaction regular lines established. By 1900 the steam would nearly take over the traffic between India and Mauritius and the ship tonnage reached unprecedented figures. For example in 1840 the tonnage was around 193 by 1885 the ship steamer name TAIF had a 2100 tonnage. As for the cable network it helped in linking Mauritius to the outside world was the Electric sub-marine cable as early as 1860 by the Eastern Telegraph which brought the first cable to the Indian Ocean to link Europe and India, wit Mauritius included in the network. However, Mauritius was linked only in 1906 together with Reunion and Madagascar.
Furthermore medium sugar industry would concentrate production as it would be uneconomical to run small estates between 40 to 200 hectares to put machines factory technology. In 1880 about 80 % of the factories were using boiling pan system with a great deal of energy wastage as compare to vacuum pipe. Furthermore they could maximize profit by using the bagasse to provide for energy as fuel, while before Mauritius reached advanced deforestation through the use of woods.
While science made much progress to help the economy other factors like natural hazards and the demand and supply laws in a market economy would play bitterly against the big plantocracy. There was cholera in three more occasions which gave rise to a number of deaths.. In 1854 claimed 7650 deaths, in 1856 there were 3250 deaths and finally in 1862 there were a death toll of about 3500. Natural hazards like in 1860’s cholera outbreaks In 1865 drought and the opening of the Suez Canal would divert trade elsewhere and the sugar glut on the market. Malaria of 1867 – 1868 which killed between 40,000 to 45,000 people. In 1886 there was a financial crisis which would have repercussions on the economy.
In 1866 and 1868 terrible outbreak of malaria kill approximately 50,000 people around one seventh of the island. Those who could afford would leave Port Louis. Between 1868 and 1914 the world sugar prices fell speedily France, Hungary, Netherlands, Australia and Germany would flood the world market with the beetroot sugar. Towards 1860’s there was the sugar sluts. Several factors brought this economic crisis, the terrible cyclone of 1868, drought in 1866, natural calamities. After the devastating cyclone of 1892 an epizootic disease affecting the cattle spread on the island the government procure loans to the sugar industry and their loans the sugar invested in railways construction and this therefore attracted investors, and boosted Mauritian economy. Even the prices paid to producers remain low the area under cane cultivation increased for example in 1890 there was a total production of 130,000 tons, in 1903 the production was over 200,000 tons in 1909 it exceeded 250,000 tons and in 1913 it exceeded 250,000 tons.
Because of these different set backs the planters experienced in the economy regarding land and labour, like for example in 1870 Mauritius imported sugar from western India ocean region to re-export to Australia, United kingdom and the Cape of Good Hope. By 1880 continental India was among the first partners to receive goods from foreign origin from Mauritius. Re-export trade made up 6% of the colony’s export 1885 and it rose to 10% in 1890 and to 16% in 1895. 8% of the export to India in 1880 consisted of re-export goods and 14% in 1895 and by 1900 India would import 50% of our export, they initiated the cost production to cut measures and centralizing sugar production by closing down sugar factories from 303 in 1863 to 188 in 1888. Amalgamating some other estate only 115 in 1901.
So the planters decided the splitting and selling of estate the ‘Grand Morcellement” will be beneficial to the Indians. A new class of Indian of land owner emerged. These several events gave rise to the growth of villages. Gujjrati invested large sums in immovable property especially in the town. In the last decades of the 19th century the increased investment in plantations by taking control of the estates or indirectly through loans or advance on crops. For example I.M Sulliman and Ajum Goolam Hossen directly owned several sugar estates with factories in the 1890’s. The Gujarati participated in the business of buying estates from bankrupt owners and parceling them out selling them to former indentured workers. Some firms took charge of the morcellement while others finance the process through loans to interested parties.
The morcellement had sold small amounts of properties of their properties in 1830’s and 1840’s but in the mid 1860’s there were the grand morcellement 1/3 of the land would be sold by 1916 which meant 37% of the land under sugar cane plantation. They were the first non-whites to have lands in the islands. Sometimes the whites would sell one hectares of land which would be divided into small plots of less than one hectare. Between 1851 and 1881 the Indian would move in all fields and would thus become the island’s artisans , coachman and all types of petty jobs in the lower class level giving rise to the ethnic specialization in activities.
In conclusion the nineteenth and the arrival of the British would bring dramatic changes in the primitive politics, science, economy and the budding Mauritian society. protect itself but also for the glory of the British Empire, the British would take over the island, put up with the French ways and culture while even at the very beginning land and labour would be subjected to imposed policies which were often difficult to implement. Policies like the abolition of slave trade and later slavery, itself. The change from a thriving free trade economy based on privateering and also a diversified agriculture to one of a mono-crop cash economy and finally controversially enough for the well-being of a $ single crop a diversified population of diverse origin emerged giving rise to one of the most beautiful population setting in the world.
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