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Sugar Cane in Mauritius

Updated on June 1, 2015
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Introduction to Sugar Cane in Mauritius

Cultivation of sugar cane in Mauritius was possible by the widespread clearing of forests in the island during the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

It was of course not a good thing to destroy the natural forest on the island because it also destroyed many endemic species.

On the positive side, sugar cane is considered as a fast growing grass that offers good vegetative cover to the ground and prevent soil erosion to occur massively.

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Have you ever been to Mauritius?

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Sugar Museum

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Beau Plan is located in the North of the island in the neighbourhood of the Pamplemousses Garden. And discover there the ancient factory of Beau Plan which is now the Sugar Museum.

The Sugar Museum is located in Beau Plan 300 m from Pamplemousses.

Discover a superb exposition in the ancient sugar refinery, in the heart of the previous machinery.

In Mauritius, the sugar has the color of gold and the memories of childhood.

The steam engine from the sugar factory of Beau Plan is located in the beautiful garden of the Museum.


Sugar Cane Fields

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Sugar cane plants look like bamboo stalks with elongated leaves. In the presence of sunlight, sugars are synthesized by the cane plant from water and atmospheric carbon dioxide and are stored in the cells of its stalk.

Sugar cane, being a tropical plant, is normally grown in countries lying mainly within the tropics. It requires high temperature, ample supply of water and sunlight during the growth period. During the maturing period, it requires cooler temperature and drier conditions so that harvesting period is normally in winter. The synthesis of sucrose in the sugar cane plant starts with the photosynthesis with the help of chlorophyll in the cane leaves when hexoses are first formed and through the C4 cycle, sucrose are ultimately synthesized during the maturing period and stored in the cells of the cane stalk.

Sugarcane is propagated from cuttings, rather than from seeds; although certain types still produce seeds, modern methods of stem cuttings have become the most common method of reproduction. Each cutting, also called "cane setts", must contain at least one bud and is usually made up of about 40 centimetres of mature stalk. The cuttings are usually planted by hand but specialized agricultural equipment are being increasingly used. These "setts" are dropped into furrows, and then covered with soil after fertiliser application. The shoots come out of the "setts" within a few weeks and grow into fully mature plant in about 12 - 16 months.

Once planted, the cane is usually harvested every year after a period of 12 months. After each harvest, the cane sends up new stalks, called ratoons. The crop will normally be replanted after 6-8 ratoons. The harvesting operation is increasingly being mechanized, reaching about 34 % in 2007.

In Mauritius, the harvest season starts in June and ends in December.

Sugar Cane

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Sugar cane is a giant perennial grass belonging to the genus Saccharum. Being a tropical crop, it is grown in countries lying mainly in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. They have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks (2.5 to 7.5 cm in diameter) that are rich in sugar and measure 2 to 6 meters tall. It is one of the most efficient photosynthesizers in the plant kingdom. It is a C-4 plant, able to convert up to 2 percent of incident solar energy into biomass. It synthesizes sugar which is stored in its stalk and can produce around 20 kg of biomass for each square meter exposed to the sun.

Sugar cane is thus a source of sugar, molasses, a residual cane fibre (bagasse). Various co-products can be commercially produced from these basic products; ethanol including rum can be produced from sugar and molasses, bagasse can be used to produce paper, particle board and electricity amongst other co-products. Research is underway to hydrolyze bagasse leading to commercial production of ethanol and bio plastic from the hydrolyzed products.

All of the sugarcane species interbreed, and the major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids. The majority of the varieties cultivated in Mauritius are locally bred and includes M 3035/66, M 1557/70, M 1176/77, M 1246/84, M 1400/86 and M 703/89. Some varieties imported from Reunion island are R 570, R 573, R 575 and R 579. Mauritius produces around 4 500 000 tonnes of sugar cane annually.

Sugar

In the cane sugar industry, sugar is obtained from the juice extracted from the stalk found in a giant tropical grass called sugar cane. Raw unrefined sugar is not the same as the brown sugar that you see in the store, even though they are both brown.

The reason why it is important for us to understand the difference between refined sugar and raw sugar is because raw sugar is actually very good for our health. Raw sugar contains organic properties such as glucose, which is easily absorbed by the body and provides it with more energy, and is also believed to improve circulation, increase blood cell production, and enhance our digestion.

Raw sugar is produced when it is extracted from sugar cane. During the refining process, impurities are removed and the cane is dried. Granular sugar with a high content of molasses is raw sugar, meaning the product isn't heavily refined. Because of this high molasses content, raw sugar has a rich, complex flavor.

When raw sugar is used in sugar drinks instead of refined sugar, there are many health benefits, especially for women. Sugar drinks soothe menstrual cramps and speeds recovery from giving birth by improving uterine contractions. Nursing mothers can also increase their milk secretion by drinking sugar drinks.

Raw sugar is also a great ingredient for cold remedies. By adding ginger slices and raw sugar to boiling water and drinking it, any cold symptoms will be significantly reduced. This mixture is also excellent for relieving constipation.

Nutritional and Health Advantages

Raw sugar contains minerals and nutrients.It contains roughly 11 calories per teaspoon. These minerals include Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium. It has trace amounts of vitamin B6, calcium and iron. Also, because it is more natural than refined sugar, raw sugar is better for people with blood sugar disorders, such as diabetes.

Disadvantages of Refined sugar (typical white/brown sugar) :- is made of pure carbohydrates has devastating affects on the body and health in general being a certain way to elevate blood sugar levels is considered to be "empty calories" as it offers no nutritional substance whatsoever when it is processed there are many harmful ingredients that are added to the sugar such as Phosphoric Acid, Sulfur Dioxide, and Formic Acid.

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    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      3 years ago from Norfolk

      I grew up in South Africa where we enjoyed stripping back the bark from sugar cane and chewing the lovely sweet juice inside.

      I have memories of huge sugar cane fires which swept through the hills in Zululand - sometimes they were set on purpose and other times not. It was a frightening experience beating the flames with wet sacking to try to prevent the flames from spreading further.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 

      5 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      What a fascinating page about sugar cane. Here in Reunion Island we have a similar history.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Great lens to learn new things. Thanks for sharing! ;-)

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      detailed info on sugarcane cultivation in mauritius. nicely done. ~blessed~

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Great education about thing that makes my coffee sweet in the morning! :)

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This lens took me back down memory lane when I was a kid in India. We enjoyed drinking sugar cane juice!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Wow, never knew that sugar cane was grown in Mauritius. In India, yes it is abundant, however, the govt. controls the pricing of both procurement and supply. Interesting learning! :)

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 

      7 years ago

      Interesting lens. I didn't know what Sugar cane looked like.

    • profile image

      masunyoananda 

      7 years ago

      @akumar46 lm: Yes I've seen people selling sugar cane juice in the streets of Mumbai. I even tasted it and really it's very refreshing..............

    • akumar46 lm profile image

      akumar46 lm 

      7 years ago

      Sugar cane is my favorite juice.

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