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Export Economy

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the role of peasant coffee. Nineteenth-century Ceylon witnessed the rapid development of a thriving export agriculture based on the cultivation of cash crops in semi-industrialised, large-scale production units-the lantations. The Dutch had already experimented with coffee cultivation in the eighteenth century, but their attempts to introduce large-scale coffee plantations failed because of the lack of suitable land. The phase of the first coffee boom covered the period from 1839 to 1847. The Indian immigrant labourers could not be absorbed by the plantation labour market anymore and started to return to South India. The chapter presents a brief introduction to the developments in the export agriculture sector of Ceylon. Periods of prosperity as well as periods of depression caused by the prevailing state of the export economy left a mark on the island's social history.

Keywords:Ceylon; coffee cultivation; coffee plantations; export economy; labour market; peasant coffee; South India



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