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Effects of Sugar Revolution – Economic Essay

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During the seventeenth century the pattern of the Landownership changed from small planters to wealthy individuals and the price of land became extremely high as sugar became more profitable in the Caribbean. Previously tobacco and the other cash crops such as corn were produced by small planters on relatively small plots of land between five and thirty acres. In the year 1645 there were approximately 5000 smallholdings in Barbados that mainly cultivated tobacco, but as the months went by the price of tobacco was gradually falling and ten acres was just not enough.

The smallholders either moved to another island for a fresh start or returned to England. Consequently the availability of the land increased for larger sugar plantations in Barbados and other Caribbean Islands. Sugar could only be grown on economically large estates so the landholdings increased in size and small landholding were grouped together to make a large estate. They were owned by rich planters, a partnership between two planters or a planter who had a significant amount of money for capital.

In Barbados the average holding was 150 acres after the change to sugar. If it was below this amount, then the estate tended not to be profitable. About half of the area was under sugar; a sixth would be for the cattle, another sixth for growing crops such as vegetables and fruits and the remainder for woodland which would be used for timber and firewood. When the sugar revolution was undergo it caused the price of the land to become exceeding high and in some parts of Barbados by as much as thirty times. For instance in 1630 the average price of an acre was three pound (£3). By 1648 when the sugar revolution was almost complete in Barbados, an acre was sold for over thirty pounds (£30).

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