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Book source: Geschiedkundige Aanteekeningen over Suriname en Paramaribo, Fred Oudschans Dentz,De West, 1972 no ISBN

Subject: [Agriculture, History] About Sugar

Article:

Unfortunately, I have not found yet books completely devoted to sugar in Suriname. Thus this post is somewhat a rambling account about sugar. In 1637, Pieter Brouwer introduced Brazilian sugar cane to Barbados and from there it made its way down to Suriname.

Sugar was very important as it was often used as currency. For instance, in 1690 one lb of sugar was equal to 2 nickels (stuivers). Letterwood (wood used in printing) was also a currency and 1 lb of sugar= 3 lbs of letterwood. In 1692 one paid with sugar to get married. The reformed church journal of 1720-1740 has entries that show that 1000 lbs of sugar equals f50 a fee necessary to marry outside the church. In 1694 one paid 20,000 lbs of sugar to be buried inside the church. 10,000 lbs was paid to be buried in the church cemetery. If the plantation owner was buried on the plantation 400 lbs of sugar was paid to the church. Children paid 200 lbs when buried on the plantation. Other people paid according to a downward sliding scale. One also paid 150 lbs of sugar to reserve a seat in church. One paid with sugar for legal document such as wills (100 lbs), a copy of a will (50 lbs), a contractual document (100 lbs).

It has been alleged by some that houses built on the Heeren and Keizersgracht in Amsterdam were built from Suriname's riches. However, no documented proof has yet shown up. It appears true that plantation owners (sugar barons) in the middle of the 18th century lived the good life. The 'good life' was of short duration as the expeditionary actions against run-away slaves became costly as well as all the defensive measures to protect the plantations with the result that Suriname slowly became a 'bottomless well' for the Dutch treasury.

The 'good life' of the plantation owners is reflected in a report by GovGen Jan Nepveu - only from 1740-1746 was there a peak in production of coffee, cacao and sugar as shown from ships manifests outbound for Amsterdam. Today coffee and cacao have disappeared as an economic crop from Suriname.

The rise and fall of plantations in Suriname is shown as follows: In 1730 there were 400 plantations. 1785 452 (350 of the owners never lived in Suriname) 1832 451 1840 383 1862 200 In 1976 less than 20 plantations remained. (A plantation is larger than 20 hectare) In 1890 94 Javanese contract workers were recruited to work on the sugar plantation in Marienburg. The experiment was a success so more Javanese were brought to Suriname. The introduction of the Javanese into Suriname was posted previously (see monthly logs). The lack of modern mechanization equipment such as for cutting the sugar cane and for processing of the sugar makes sugar from Suriname an expensive product which can not compete on world markets.




Met dank aan Albert Buys









Met dank aan Albert Buys







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