The harvesting of the 1974 sugar cane crop has begun in Mauritius, and there are hopes that it will reach last year's record volume of more than seven hundred thousand tons, which earned more in foreign exchange than ever before.
GV Sugar cane being out (2 shots)
SV PAN Men carrying bundles of sugar cane and loading it into trailer (3 shots)
GV Sygar processing plant
GV Bales of sugar cane being off-loaded from trucks (2 shots)
CU Sugar cane being hoisted and lowered into grinder (2 shots)
CU Sugar cane being ground up
GV Refinery plant
SV Another factory and textile factory (2 shots)
GV "Litronix" factory
GV Girls leaving "Litronix" factory during change of shift (3 shots)
GV Tourist beach near Port Louis PAN TO boats (SONG ON SOUNDTRACK -- SUGAR SONG)
LV Tourists with boats and sunbathers on beach (2 shots)
GV Local beach-combers selling shells to tourists
Initials BB/1702 NPJ/AW/BB/1733 Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The harvesting of the 1974 sugar cane crop has begun in Mauritius, and there are hopes that it will reach last year's record volume of more than seven hundred thousand tons, which earned more in foreign exchange than ever before.
However, the sugar industry on the island faces an uncertain future, mainly because of its dependence on the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. The island, which lies in the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar, is very small -- just 38 miles (61 kilometres) long by 29 miles (47 kilometres) wide. It has no mineral resources and its main source of income is the export of sugar cane.
Under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, Mauritius was guaranteed a regular market in Britain for more than half its annual crop of sugar cane. But Britain's entry into the European Economic Community (the Common Market), put the commonwealth Sugar Agreement into jeopardy.
The mauritian sugar cane industry also faces more local problems. The island has a population of eight hundred and twenty-six thousand, and of those seventy thousand are employed in the industry. Because of the rising cost of labour, the industry is having to face up to the fact that it must introduce elements of mechanisation. Previously this has been opposed on political and social grounds.
The Government of Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam is making an effort to reduce the island's dependence on sugar cane by encouraging the diversification of industry. It is hoped that the projects the Government has recently set up will provide about nine thousand new jobs a year.
Another hopeful sign for the economy is the tourist industry. Tourism is centred on the beautiful beaches of Mauritius. In the past few years it has increased dramatically. Last year seventy thousand people visited the island, and several international conferences were held there.
The tourist industry directly employs about two thousand people, and gives indirect employment to about twice that number. Nevertheless, it is the sugar industry and the men who cut the canes, who will be the main support of the Mauritian economy for many years to come.