The sweet earth
Sugar, the foundation of our economic success
Isle de France’s first sugar refineries were founded in the 18th century, under the leadership of French governor Mahé de La Bourdonnais. When the English conquered the island, which they renamed “Mauritius”, in 1810, they encouraged the production of sugar at the expense of maritime trade. Sugar flourished and remained the island’s main economic activity for several centuries, reaching an apex in 1858, when the country boasted more than 250 refineries!
At the dawn of independence in 1968, revenues from the sugar industry enabled Mauritius to diversify its economic model by investing in textiles and tourism. The rich, complex history of sugar in Mauritius allows us to better understand and recognise our common heritage. It is our duty to remember the history that we share, in order to build a peaceful and prosperous future for our island, together.
Sugar, the foundation of our multiculturalism
The history of sugar is also the story of island’s successive waves of immigration. For nearly a century, the sugar industry’s manpower was provided by African slaves. Their unwilling contribution to Mauritius’ economic success is commemorated at L’Aventure du Sucre museum, which is part of The Slave Route Project, an international UNESCO-funded initiative.
When slavery was abolished in 1835, indentured labourers from India replaced them in the sugarcane fields. They, in turn, added another layer to the country’s rich and complex blend of cultures and identities.
These successive arrivals have made Mauritius the exemplary and harmonious melting pot that it is today.
Sugar, the foundation of our future
The island’s sugar refineries have gradually been centralised and are now operated by only a handful of large diversified groups, including Terra. By investing in new sectors including education, culture and real estate, Terra is constantly reinventing itself. Its aim is to revitalise the Beau Plan region and create value for its inhabitants. And at the dawn of the era of renewable energy, sugarcane has a more important role to play than ever! Bagasse is now being turned into biofuel and helps supply the country with electricity. Given the challenges currently facing the sugar industry, the island’s major groups are now exploring new opportunities for development.
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