The Australian Sugar Cane Industry
The Australian sugar cane industry is one of the largest industries in Australia and continues to grow today. It is the third largest raw sugar supplier after Brazil and India despite sugar being produced in over one hundred countries. It is also the seventh largest agricultural exporter in Australia. It is the second largest export crop after wheat and the fourth major export earning agricultural product. Its value of production is worth 1.5-2.5 billion dollars, which indicates its particularly heavy weighting in the Australian agricultural industry over, which was worth $8.7 billion dollars in 2008. In Australia, it uses twenty four sugar mills, which employs approximately one hundred and fifty people for every season. It is estimated that around six thousand and three hundred farmers and families own sugar cane farms. An average sugar cane farm is thirty to one hundred and twenty hectares but can be larger than a massive one thousand hectares. The industry is focussed on its international competitiveness because most of the sugar, around 80 per cent, is exported to other countries. Due to this competitiveness, the Australian sugar cane industry has been adopting innovative practices, especially by using machinery when harvesting and planting, practising new farming techniques and growing a diverse range of sugar canes and zeroing in on the sweetest and most yielding crop. In Australia, thirty two to thirty five million tonnes of sugar cane are being harvested yearly, resulting in 4.5 to 5 tonnes of raw sugar being processed. Four thousand sugar cane farm businesses are involved in the sugar cane industry and 6 bulk storage ports are also in place to support the sugar cane industry and the exports of raw sugar to other countries. Every day, ten thousand tonnes of sugar is processed in Australian sugar mills. Sugar is used for various reasons. It is used to sweeten beverages and confectionery, bring out the tastes of canned food, preserve jams and home made cakes, absorb moisture, thicken ice cream, add flavour, make custard smooth and creamy, hide the bitter taste of medicine and can also be used for use in ethanol, which is healthier for the environment than normal fuel. Sugar is also used for fermenting in the process of producing beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks. It can even be used to get rid of oil or grease build up. Sugar cane was brought to Australia with the First Fleet. Sugar cane was first grown at Port Macquarie in 1821 by James Williams, a convict. In 47 years, there were nine mills in New South Wales which produced around sixty tonnes of sugar. Queensland’s sugar cane industry, however, preferred to use cheap labour from Pacific Islanders. The Pacific Islanders were given the derogatory term ‘Kanaka’, which was the Hawaiian word for ‘man’. The Pacific Islanders were kidnapped from their homes by being lured onto ships with the promise of goods and simply shipped off to Queensland. This practice was known as blackbirding. Some contradicting studies show that some men voluntarily enlisted into this service, seeing the journey as an adventure. The ‘father’ of the Australian sugar cane industry, Captain Louis Hope, began to use cheap labour from the Pacific Islands in 1867. The Kanakas were treated harshly but were far away from their home country so could not form a resistance against these people and could only continue to be slaved in the sugar cane industry. Despite this being an outrageously racist act on the part of the Queenslanders, the availability of cheap labour provided an opportunity for men to develop sugar cane farms. After the Second World War, the Australian sugar industry expanded further. Post war production of sugar increased from 950 000 tonnes to 1.3 million tonnes in 1954. The sugar cane industry exports around 80 per cent of its produce to other countries. These countries are Canada, China, Singapore, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South...
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