HC Deb 24 October 1956 vol 558 cc626-7
22. Mr. Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the percentage of sugar cane harvested by peasant farmers and by sugar companies, respectively, in 1955 in British Guiana ; whether he will encourage cane farming by peasants there ; and what steps he is taking to do so.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Of the sugar manufactured during 1955, 1½ per cent. was produced from cane grown by peasant farmers, the remainder being produced by the companies. Peasant farming with improved techniques is being encouraged through a pilot scheme run with the cooperation of farmers under private enterprise.

Mr. Allaun

Is the Minister aware that the 1½ per cent. of sugar harvested by peasant farmers contrasts with 100 per cent. in Puerto Rico, 97 per cent. in Fiji and 33 per cent. throughout the West Indies? Is he further aware that the farmers believe that neither the Government nor Booker Bros, want the scheme to succeed?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Without necessarily accepting the hon. Member's figures, I am in favour of extension of peasant cultivation, if the pilot scheme justifies it, but the growing of sugar cane involves all sorts of difficulties, including elaborate water control, and I would rather proceed slowly and surely than rush into something that might be doomed to failure.

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