Peasantry

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Peasant groups consisted of the economically deprived ex-slaves at the lower strata of society from the time of freedom in 1838. They were determined not to return to the sugarcane plantations of the whites and so immigration into the deep rural areas took place. They were involved in the cultivation of a variety of goods such as cocoa, bananas, coffee, ginger, cotton, coconuts and arrowroot and the rearing of farm animals on fairly small pieces of property. As more land was demand, the whites blocked the paths of the ex-slaves because the ownership of land was the only way complete independence from the plantation was possible. Land became more expensive. The British government went along with the objections and it was made a rule that the minimum size of property to be sold should be moved from sixteen hectors to one hundred and thirty hectors. This price was therefore unaffordable by the ex-slaves. They were also evicted from the properties and their goods were sometimes sabotaged. Eventually they came together and bought whole plantations where the colonial powers could not refuse the sale. Baptist ministers also assisted them in purchasing land, especially in Jamaica, forming free villages. Others squatted on crown lands. Peasantry gave rise to the money earned by the former slaves as they no longer had to work on the estates for low wages and the produce was for their own exports. It introduced them to being independent by having to organize themselves for this market and brought them knowledge of the trading world. Since the ex-slaves entered this business, the rigid class divisions that existed lessened. The whites at the top of the social strata now traded with the blacks at the bottom. From trading they learnt how to manage their money and time management was also learnt since they no longer toiled for the average sixteen and a half hours a day on the estates. The crops were tended to when necessary and non-agricultural activities such as fishing...
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