Monthly Archives: June 2007

Indian Arrival Day commemorative magazine 2007

Indian indentureship on cocoa, coconut and rubberin Trinidad

It is not well known today that South Asian/East Indian immigrants were indentured on estates other than sugarcane plantations. When the price of sugar in the world market fell in the mid-1880s, cocoa, coconut and rubber became alternative crops cultivated for export. Cocoa surpassed sugar as the most valuable export crop in Trinidad during, and just after Indentureship, and Indians were at the forefront of this agricultural enterprise. Indians worked in cocoa estates in Diego Martin, Lopinot, Sangre Grande, Grand Couva, Oropouche, Siparia, Fyzabad and Avocat. In 1920, cocoa beans made up about 43 percent of the British colony’s total export.

From World War 1 (1914-1918) until 1921, copra [from coconut] prices rose rapidly and production doubled with the additional labour of Indians. They worked on coconut estates in Cocal and Ortoire along the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road, and Cedros and Icacos in the south-west peninsula of the island. A few hundred Indians were also indentured on rubber estates in Trinidad, and perhaps Guyana. As early as 1910, about 3000 acres of land were grown with Castilloa rubber mainly in Rio Claro. Later, the Para [Hevea Brasiliensis] variety was cultivated in Talparo, Ecclesville, Phoenix, Guayabe, Vessigny, Biche, Matura and Sangre Grande.

Continue reading