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Sitting on their arses at desks and thinking up a fine lot o' fancy theories. But we're the fellows that have got to get the cane in and get the cutters to work at the right place at the right time.'

The conversation was revealing. As I was to find from this and conversations on other estates there is a 'Georgetown' outlook which is in the main seeking to solve the endlessly complicated problems of British Guiana according to liberal principles; and the 'plantation' outlook which still bears the vestiges of the slave-days. In fairness I should add that there are estate managers, particularly the younger ones, who have already understood the wisdom and moral propriety of the Georgetown attitude. It is obvious that their influence will increase in the future. All the same it would be foolish to deny that many of the men who are in actual contact with the labourforce are conditioned during long years to reject the liberal principles as unrealistic. Toughness, they insist, is the only method of dealing with thousands of workers whose acts of in- / transigence would make 'work-to-rule' trade unionists seem like Stakhanovites. Almost all estate men have begun as overseers, when eighteen or twenty years old, and in the cane fields they learn to regard estate labour as adversaries rather than as allies.

The higher authorities in the sugar industry of the Colony are aware that an unfortunate mental climate is produced by this early experience in the fields, and there is no doubt that they are more concerned with labour relations now than ever before; they have appointed personnel managers on the estates and chief personnel officers in Georgetown. (Bookers have also appointed a highly qualified personnel man to their Board of Directors.) Yet constantly, in talking to an overseer, I would find that he had no conception of the basic problems of the country he was living in, that it had a land problem and a population problem. There is no doubt that living and working conditions on the sugar estates inevitably bear hard on the young overseer, who is often discontented and lives for the time when he will move up in the hierarchy and leave the fields. But by that time his mind has become conditioned to a manner of thinking which has certainly in the past—had a malign effect on the general happiness of the Colony.

After an excellent lunch we walked over to the factory, where


'grinding' continues day and night during the harvest seasons. The great, black-metal machines in the factory seemed more appropriate to the production of tanks than so delicate a substance as sugar and nowhere could I see the niceties of hygiene. In fact, the factories only produce sugar in its rough form-it is whitened and refined in England.

A transport canal passes the factory and through a window we saw an approaching line of six large punts, drawn by a mule. The cane was dark from burning-just before harvesting an area is burnt to destroy dead and fallen leaves so that the cutter can move about among the canes. As each punt reached a certain point a crane descended and its entire content of six or seven tons was lifted out of it. For a moment the crane rested the load on a weighing scale before depositing it on to a belt which conveyed it into the factory. In a moment revolving blades had cut the cane into chips and a moment later the chips disappeared into the mill to be crushed by a series of rollers, the juice straining away along a flat channel. After the cane has been sufficiently crushed the fibre, or 'bagasse', collects in large containers and is taken away to be used, without further drying, as furnace fuel.

The juice is full of impurities which must be removed by adding milk of lime and boiling the mixture so that the heat and the lime force most of the impurities to coagulate and finally to settle in an unattractive sludge, leaving a strawcoloured juice. The sludge is put into a complicated centrifuge which extracts what juice it may contain, which is boiled with lime once more to remove the last particle of impurity. The sludge is made into 'filter cake' and provides a useful field fertilizer.

The pure juice is now converted into a thick syrup by evaporation and this syrup is boiled, in its turn, to form the brown crystals of 'Demerara' sugar. The residue from this is a mixture of sugar crystals and molasses known as the 'massecuite' or 'cooked mass'. The crystals are separated from the molasses by centrifuge. These salvaged crystals join the rest of the crystallized sugar in huge bins from which the sugar is drawn off into bags, which are sealed and placed in a belt; this conveys them to the transport department. The molasses is piped through to the distillery which is found at the side of all

sugar factories, and here it is mixed with water, fermented and distilled, emerging at last as rum-a rum which is incomparably finer and drier than the sickly concoction which so many of us in England imagine to be the only sort of rum. there is.

When we left the factory to walk to the jeep which was to take us on a tour of the plantation, a smiling Negro came towards us. He had an unfortunate skin infection which had turned large patches of his face into a dirty grey colour. He knew my companion from the days when he had worked on this estate. 'Hey, baas,' he said, pointing to his face, ‘fo' true yo' see ma face presently—me no storying yo' sa' when me say me now bacra1 sa', me got discourse like bacra when me discoursin', eh sa'?' He went off happily, almost proud of his particolouring.

We bumped along in the jeep on the track which runs parallel with most of the plantation canals. All the larger plantations have some 250 miles of irrigation and transport canals and about eighty miles of drainage trenches--so that a large percentage of estate land cannot be used agriculturally. The cost of maintaining these canals is high; now and then we would see stretches of canal whose surfaces were covered with a beautiful display of lotus lilies and water hyacinths—weeds which had grown up in the few months since the mechanical dredger had passed that way. The rectangular cane fields are intersected by narrow ditches, either horizontally in the 'Dutch' layout or vertically in the 'English' layout, and the water flows into the main canal system, eventually moving down to the sluices, or kokers, at the Sea Wall, where it is pumped into the sea. It is-fortunately--a unique method of sugar-growing, which has made the production costs of British Guiana sugar the highest in the British Commonwealth. The cane was high and luxuriant, an appearance which belies its low sucrose content, and the green upper leaves moved beautifully in the persistent breeze. Here and there areas were being 'flood-fallowed', another unique feature of Guianese sugar agriculture. For six to nine months the fields lie under ten inches of water, and the saturation restores the tired soil; a cheesy and structureless clay is turned into a soil in which the 1 Negro name for white man.

beneficent microbe can build up his fertile structures. Even so, artificial fertilizers must be added, and during our drive we saw the Auster aeroplane belonging to Bookers Sugar Estates flying backwards and forwards across the fields, spraying insecticides on the land.

The little aeroplane was a symbol of the remarkable work being done to increase productivity in the face of natural difficulties. Besides the usual tropical diseases and pests to which sugar cane is susceptible, British Guiana has peculiar soil variations and climatic conditions which do not-as conditions do in the other West Indian colonies-naturally foster ripe sugar cane growth. The industry has invoked the aid of the scientists. Along with the Central Experiment Station in Georgetown, run by the Sugar Producers' Association, Bookers Sugar Estates Ltd. have for some years maintained their own research laboratory. By the accumulation of a mass of statistical data their scientists have been able to work out in detail what fertilizers are required for each particular area, and at what precise moment each field of cane must be cut to give the highest yield of sugar. When the new scientific methods have had time to make their full effect, Bookers expect yields to be increased by over a third, from under three tons per acre to getting on for four.

We stopped at a field which stood black and bedraggled in the intense sun. It had been burnt the day before and was now being cut. We crossed the canal by means of a slim tree-trunk and crunched over the dried grass to find the overseer. He was a big man, in his late twenties, with an R.A.F. moustache, wearing a bush-hat and a bush-shirt whose breast pockets bulged with papers, pocket-books and pencils. His khaki-drill trousers were stuffed into his Wellingtons and he held a cane switch in his hand. The cane-cutters were at work cutting the cane with razor-sharp machetes, or 'cutlasses' as they are called in the Colony. With strength quite incommensurate with their appearance, the little men would raise huge bundles of cane on their heads and take them over to the row of punts standing in the transport canal. A young Indian girl was moving among them with a bucket of ice in which lay bottles of coca-cola. 'Hey, Dollar,' called one of the cutters, 'me want bottle o' coke,' and she tore the metal cap off the bottle with her teeth. 'Dollar

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