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Global Industry, Local Innovation: The History of Cane Sugar Production in Australia, 1820-1995

Peter Griggs

Australia is currently the second largest exporter of raw sugar after Brazil, and one of the world’s top five sugar exporters. This book tells the story of how the Australian cane sugar industry grew into a major global supplier of sugar, how it became a significant innovator in the technology associated with the growing and harvesting of sugar cane as well as the production and transport of sugar. It describes the spread of sugar cane growing along the north-eastern coast of Australia during the late nineteenth century, and how subsequent twentieth-century expansions were tightly regulated in order to avoid overproduction. It examines changes in agricultural techniques, efforts to combat pests and diseases, breeding new cane varieties and the significance of improvements in the sugar milling and refining processes. Special attention is also devoted to documenting how sugar production changed the landscape of north-eastern coastal Australia. Topics considered include deforestation, soil erosion, loss of wetlands associated with drainage improvements, the introduction of fauna to control insect pests affecting the crops of sugar cane and mining the coral of the Great Barrier Reef to produce agricultural lime. It is the first comprehensive account of the history of the Australian cane sugar industry.