MT 60 Yrs – 2nd Year No 49 – Friday 15th July 1955
The problem of our fast-increasing population has brought the problem of production to the forefront. If the Population Committee has laid down ways and means to check the growth of the population it has also given same thoughts to the problem of production.
We are giving below what the prospects of our production are together with the problem as the world has to face it. We are summarising some facts and opinions in order to see whether there is cause for hope or for despair.
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According to the Report of the Population Committee our population is growing at the rate of three persons per hundred per annum. If our production remains static, how are we going to feed the extra mouths?
Sugar Industry being our main industry it is but natural that we should try to increase the productivity of that industry. Fortunately the increase in the past few years has been quite remarkable. From 347,527 metric tons in 1947 the figure went up to 512,225 tons in 1953. Last year we produced less than in 1953 but that was due to bad weather.
It has been said that we can aim at the target figure of 750,000 tons.
It appears that the sugar estates are doing quite well with an average of 32 tons per arpent. Individual growers are able to produce an average of 22 tons and 41% of total cane production are in their hands.
It is clear that sugar production may be increased as regards individual growers; but have the sugar estates reached the maximum output?
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Apart from sugar production, we have to consider the major secondary industries, viz, alcohol and molasses, tea, tobacco and aloe fibre.
We are exporting molasses today. In 1952 and in 1953 their sales brought in Rs 6 million and Rs 4,6 million respectively. The Committee is of opinion that the production of alcohol should be kept in view. We have already stressed upon this point in our editorial, ‘Should We Export Molasses’, in our issue of the 20th of May.
Before the War some 1,000 arpents were under tea cultivation and at present it is about 2½ times that acreage. Imports of manufactured tea has, however, decreased from 170 metric tons before the War to about 50 tons. It has been estimated that we may have 20,000 arpents to 30,000 arpents of tea plantation. The Committee is of opinion that it is absolutely necessary to develop the tea industry.
As regards tobacco and aloe fibre, the Committee says: “Authorised opinion on this matter leaves no hope for the possibility of obtaining a greater income from these industries.”
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The population problem and the problem of production are also world problems. Wise statesmen of the world have realized that the common enemy of mankind is hunger.
The population of the world has increased from about 2000 million in the pre-War period to about 2400 million in 1950. And according to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations the population of the world is increasing at the rate somewhere between 26 and 32 million a year.
But experts are not pessimistic. Some say that the food production of the world is limping behind the expansion of population but admit that the production has not been geared up to full speed. It is stated that agricultural science if applied to the land already under cultivation could double the world supply.
Hardest is the lot of the black man in this world of overgrowing population and under-developed production. It has been estimated that a coloured person has about a two-to-one chance of suffering from malnutrition.
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We must do all we can to increase the yield of lands already under cultivation. More, we must try to cultivate more lands. It was to secure more production that we advocated some time ago in our editorial, ‘More Land For More Production’ the cultivation of Crown lands as far as possible. Mauritius covers an area of 7,460,000 acres out of which roughly 200,000 acres are under cultivation. A survey will perhaps help in revealing what parts of lands lying fallow are suitable for cultivation.
The conquest of hunger has been uppermost in the mind of man since his creation. But hunger has yet to be conquered. We must try to conquer it here. It is heartening to think that the United Nations, through its Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), is actively engaged in wiping out the scourge of hunger from the face of the earth.
We may disagree on the form and colour of government our colony deserves. We may disagree on the means of checking the growth of our population. But when it comes to increasing production we must sink all political and moral convictions and prejudices. The material issue of satiating human hunger is so sacred that it must stand above ideological quibbles and quarrels.
By taking to intensive cultivation we declare war on hunger and malnutrition. The day of bright victory may be beyond the horizon but, at least, the thought of increased production generates hope in place of fear and despair.
(Friday 15th July 1955)