Rise of King Sugar
During the seventeenth century the Caribbean economy experienced a great change that would be revolutionary. This change was termed the "Sugar Revolution". The "Sugar Revolution" describes the change from tobacco to sugar as the chief crop of the region and the changes that were associated with it. But was were the factors that led to this great change?
The factors include:
1. Competition: West Indian tobacco faced great competition from tobacco grown in the North American colony of Virginia. Virginia produced tobacco of a better quality and in larger quantity compared to the West Indies. Due to the demand for tobacco in England, Virginia was able to meet this demand, thus the demand for West Indian tobacco decreased as it was of an inferior quality compared with tobacco from Virginia.
2. Demand for Sugar In Europe: During the seventeenth century, tea and coffee became popular in Europe. Due to this there was a demand for sugar to sweeten these beverages, as honey which was used became expensive. They also needed sugar to preserve fruits and make jams.
3. Right climate and soil: The West Indies possessed the ideal climate (tropical) for growing sugarcane. They also had the right soil which was easily drained to cultivate the crop.
4. Sugar was not bulky: Sugar was light which made it easy to transport in the small ships used during the seventeenth century.
5. Access to Market: Through the transatlantic voyage, the West Indies became more accessible to the European markets.
6. Help From the "God Fathers' (Dutch): The Dutch helped in the establishment of the sugar industry by providing their expertise in sugarcane cultivation, capital and labour (slaves).
It was these facts that made it possible for the West Indian sugar industry to develop during the seventeenth century.
Source: Greenwood, R, Hamber, S., & Dyde, B. (2008). Caribbean certificate history 1: Amerindians to Africans (3rd ed.). Oxford: Macmillan Caribbean....
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