Industrial development in sugar production

There was a need for industrial development in sugar production because the low level of technology made sugar production difficult and labour intensive. The demand for sugar was also rising, particularly in Britain.

An early steam powered sugar mill being operated by slaves
New technology like steam-powered sugar mills were operated by enslaved people

Plantation owners

In the 1740s, Jamaica and Saint-Domingue (Haiti) became the world’s main sugar producers.

Plantation owners looked for ways to increase their production:

  • They increased production by using an irrigation system built by French engineers. They also built reservoirs, diversion dams, levees, aqueducts and canals.
  • They began using more manure to fertilise their crops.
  • They developed more advanced mills.
  • They used better types of sugar cane.
  • From the late 18th century, the production of sugar became increasingly mechanised. In 1768, a steam engine was first used to power a sugar mill in Jamaica.