Sugar Cane Harvesters

Sugar Cane--a tropical grass with tall, stout, jointed stems from which sugar is extracted. The coastal area of Pernambuco state in Northeast Brazil is also called Zona da Mata.  Its gets its name from the Northern Atlantic Forest of which today almost none exists. The littoral has a tropical climate, perfect conditions for sugar cane cultivation. It has been like this since colonial times when the Portuguese introduced sugar cane.

Mechanized farming is almost impossible due to hills.  In Pernambuco sugarcane is harvested by hand.  First, the field is set on fire. The fire burns dry leaves without harming the stalks and roots. Than harvesters cut the cane just above ground-level using special knives. Unfortunately cheap and seasonal manual labor is needed to work the land just as in times past.  But today, the land is not used for sugar production, but rather ethanol, as Brazil has the largest ethanol industry in the world.



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