As a visitor drives across the plains of the department of Valle del Cauca in southwestern Colombia, green carpets dominate the view: sugarcane fields that have been here since the area got its name.
First came sugar. For four centuries, it was the main sugarcane product in Brazil. But since the 1970s sugarcane has grown and diversified as a source of energy: ethanol, electricity and biogas.
The participation of children and teenagers in the sugar cane harvest, a dangerous agricultural activity, will soon be a thing of the past in El Salvador, where the practice drew international attention 10 years ago.
Cuba’s sugar industry hopes to become the main source of clean energy in the country as part of a programme to develop renewable sources aimed at reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels and protecting the environment.
While Mauritius has been forced to transform its sugar industry because of low prices for the commodity, the country’s small-scale sugarcane farmers who contribute to it say they are barely earning a living.
Following a promising start, Brazil's dream of positioning ethanol in the global market on an equal standing with petroleum-based fuels is hindered by new and old challenges.
The Cuban sugar industry seems to be experiencing a rebirth thanks to an economic modernisation programme that has allowed for an injection of foreign capital as part of a strategy to strengthen and diversify this key sector.
Bolivia’s sugar mills are once again operating at full capacity, with producers flooding the domestic market and desperate to obtain permits to export a surplus of 138,000 tons to Chile, Colombia, Peru and the United States.