Penang’s potential for plantation agriculture was obvious to its first settlers already soon after it was founded. It was hoped that cultivating crops for export to Europe would help cover administrative costs on the island.
By 1802, pepper had become the most important export produce on the island, but production soon dwindled following falling prices and increased interest in nutmeg and cloves. Thus, many pepper plantations were abandoned as the trade in other spices picked up.
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