|A mountain shaped by a volcano, with a water harvesting pond next to a sugar field|
Mauritius is a little island in the Indian ocean. Its is shaped by volcano and therefore has fantastic mountains and beaches. Next to tourism, the sugar industry is the main user of land.
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Sugar used to be the major income of the island, and used to sell its sugar mainly to Europe. There were about 23 sugar mills around the island. At that time the sugar was produced by smallholders. With time and the increase of labor price, the mechanization process started. Mechanization implied that the fields need to be cleared from the big stones, a process that was implement over many years and partly funded by EU development projects. Also these stones could then be sold on market for construction. Sugar productivity could be increased dramatically, but this mechanization resulted in more compacted soils, and therefore run-off increased. Since ever, organic waste from sugar cane is returned to the soil, and therefore soil fertility is not such an important issue in the area.
|a modern sugar mill|
|left overs from an old sugar mill|
|a carrot field|
|a field growing grass for golf courts|
|center of the pivot irrigation with the pump on the right|
I would like to thank Dr. Roland NG Chong, research manager at the Mauritius sugar industry research institute for having shown us his island and shared his expertise. I also would like to thank the manager of the sugar farm we visited for answering our millions of questions and showing us his irrigation schemes. Finally a thanks go to Professor Meine van Dijk and Professor John Cameron for sharing this fantastic afternoon!