With metal-bearing rocks, its damp, tropical climate, and rich, volcanic soil, Fiji possesses a wealth of economic resources ranging from gold and timber to sugar, bananas, and copra. Historically there have been considerable changes in the types of agriculture in Fiji. Native Fijian agriculture, based originally on subsistence and local exchanges, has become a mixed economy. With the introduction of cash and the inclusion of the group within the orbit of world trade, a growing though still relatively small part is played by native production for world markets. Indians, introduced originally as indentured laborers, have now gained their economic independence and become small farmers. In terms of scale, organization of production, and value of products, Indian farming is more important than that of the Fijians.
Sugar is the leading export crop of Fiji, and its production under the plantation system began in the 1870's. Indians and other nonCaucasians were brought in as laborers. Other crops include bananas, rice, cacao, coffee, citrus fruits, cotton, and rubber. Production of copra and coconut oil is important. The East Indians in Fiji are commanding more attention than Asiatics in any other Pacific islands. The future of Orientals there is receiving a good deal of anxious thought, and the eyes of other governments in the South Seas are focused on the situation that the Indians have brought about. From indentured laborers they have developed into good farmers, raising sugar cane, rice, and nearly all the other commercial crops of the Fiji group. They are tenant farmers, laborers, mechanics, store keepers, business and professional men, and politicians.