The 1960 Fiji sugar dispute : the cane growers versus the CSR Company : a thesis presented ... for the degree of Master of Arts in History

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Massey University
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Sugar is Fiji's chief export and accounts for over eighty per cent of its total export earnings. The set up of the Fijian sugar industry is perhaps unique in the world. The buying and processing of cane as well as the distribution of sugar up until 1962 were entirely in the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (usually referred to as the CSR or the Company) of Australia. The Company was also the owner or lessee of nearly half of the colony's total cane lands which were leased or sub-leased to over 5,200 small Indian tenant farmers. In its milling operations and transport network the CSR employed over 2,500 workers. Thus the CSR enjoyed a monopoly in the manufacture and distribution of sugar as well as holding an oligopoly as far as control of cane lands was concerned. From this strong position it could deal with the cane farmers successfully over matters such as cane payments to the farmers or conditions regarding harvesting and transporting of cane to its mills. If the cane growers failed to reach a favourable agreement with the CSR over the sale and purchase of cane they were faced with the unenviable position of having in hand a commercial crop with no buyers. The growers' position was aggravated by the fact that the cane crop deteriorated if it was not harvested in season and further it remained at the mercy of floods, hurricanes, droughts or even fires which were not uncommon occurences in the sugar districts. The livelihood of over 80 percent of the Indian farmers depended solely upon the income derived from the sales of sugar cane which brought by far the biggest return of any other crop. Sugar cane growing thus dominated the farming activities of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu's western coastal plains, the only plains large enough for extensive agricultural use.
Colonial Sugar Refining Company, Sugar trade, Fiji