The sweetness of the crop could not have contrasted more bitterly with the human experience it dragged in its wake. Planting, growing, weeding, cutting, grinding and boiling sugar was dirty, hard and debilitating work. It also required a labor force that was up to three times as larger than that needed for traditional crops such as cocoa, cotton and coffee.
As the amount of land under sugar cane increased, so did the slave population. Between 1772 and 1789, more than 500 slaves were imported into St. Lucia: an average of almost 300 slaves per year.
Did you know sugar production in St. Lucia failed as early as the 1884 crisis, strangling the economy and causing widespread wage dependency, poverty and poor work ethics among agricultural workers? Accompanying this was an ill-developed peasantry characterized by poor security of land tenure, poor agricultural practices, high levels of praedial larceny and disastrous environmental practices.
Despite being the island’s main source of income, in many ways the sugar industry had hindered St. Lucia’s social and economic advancement.
Source: A History of St. Lucia by Harmsen, Ellis & Devaux – 2012