21 imagesSugar Cane: the 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. The reason for the name is because it was part of the Northern Atlantic Forest, today almost inexistent. The littoral has a perfect tropical climate, and almost perfect condition for sugar cane cultivation. It has been like this since colonial times when sugar cane was introduce by the Portuguese. The land is not flat and the presence of hills makes mechanization almost impossible. In Pernambuco sugarcane is harvested by hand. The field is first set on fire. The fire burns dry leaves without harming the stalks and roots. Harvesters then cut the cane just above ground-level using special knives. Unfortunately cheap and seasonal manual labor is needed to work the land just like the old times. But unlikely old times today the land is not used for the production of sugar but ethanol, and for the largest ethanol industry in the world. The all world has an interest in the Brazilian ethanol industry because if their can import the technology and ethanol they will be able to reduce their dependence in fossil fuels. But once again the world is ignoring the consequences of cheap labor and colonialist habits of high concentration of land in the hands of a few owners, the problems with the burning, and the under paid labor. They are much more harmful than beneficial to the majority of Pernambuco population.