The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 45, Issue 1

Article 5
Thoroughly Tested and Carefully Tried: Cane Culture, Agricultural Technology and Environmental Change in Nineteenth-Century Guyana

Allyson Stoll


Guyana is an acknowledged exception to long-held, though now substantially modified, opinions that sugar production technologies in the anglophone Caribbean colonies throughout most of the nineteenth century were flawed and archaic. While advances in agriculture did not keep pace with Guyana’s noteworthy achievements in industrial processing, allegations of backwardness and indifference to field-related modernization are often exaggerated and sometimes unfounded. Despite the acknowledgments that Guyana was among the more technologically advanced colonies, little is generally known about innovative and science-guided initiatives that unfolded on Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo plantations during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This article focuses on the efforts to introduce new techniques and improve the cultivation of cane and other crops between 1800 and the 1920s.