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Engenho (Portuguese pronunciation: [ẽˈʒẽɲu]) is a colonial-era Portuguese term for a sugar cane mill and the associated facilities. In Spanish-speaking countries such as Cuba and Puerto Rico, they are called ingenios. The word engenho usually only referred to the mill, but it could also describe the area as a whole including land, a mill, the people who farmed and who had a knowledge of sugar production, and a crop of sugar cane. A large estate was required because of the massive amount of labor needed to yield refined sugar, molasses, or rum from raw sugar cane. These estates were prevalent in Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and other countries in the Caribbean. As a result of these industries, Brazil is today still one of the world's major producers of sugar.
The focus on sugarcane promoted a growth of slavery in Brazil. Native peoples of Brazil planted some crops, in some cases -- they invented manioc, for example -- but they did not engage in large-scale agriculture along industrial lines; they resisted farm labor and were largely eliminated by smallpox, measles, and enslavement[disputed ][relevant? ].
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