Both cultivation and manufacture have been carried on in the old time way, by the rudest of methods, and the principal product is a coarse brown sugar, called panela, universally used by the poorer classes as an article of food and for making a popular beverage.
The early methods of making cane sugar, clarified with clay and dried in conical moulds, are to be found all over Mexico, and the annual output of this brown or muscovado sugar (called "panela " by the natives) is still very large.
The sugar crop of1907-1908was reported as 123,285 metric tons, in addition to which the molasses output was estimated at 70,947.5 metric tons, and " panela " at 50,000 tons.
Other estimates make the " panela " output much larger, the product being largely consumed in the rural districts and never appearing in the larger markets.
Very similar kinds of sugar are also produced for local consumption in Central America and in Mexico, under the names of " Panela " and " Chancaca," but in those countries the sugar is generally boiled in pans placed over special fire-places, and the factories making it are on a comparatively small scale, whereas in the Straits Settlements the " basket sugar " factories are of considerable importance, and are fitted with the most approved machinery.