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Harvesting sugarcane in Guatemala

Rodrigo Abd / AP

In this photo taken on Friday Nov. 25, 2011, field worker Jose Contreras, 31, carries sugar cane stalks.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

In this picture taken on Friday Nov. 25, sugar cane worker Valerisimo Moran drinks water after finishing his work day.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

A foreman writes down the quantity of sugar cane cut by workers at the end of a work day.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

Sugar cane cutters leave the field at the end of a work day.

Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on sugarcane:

Sugarcane is harvested by hand and mechanically. Hand harvesting accounts for more than half of production, and is dominant in the developing world. In hand harvesting, the field is first set on fire. The fire burns dry leaves, and kills any lurking venomous snakes, without harming the stalks and roots. Harvesters then cut the cane just above ground-level using cane knives or machetes. A skilled harvester can cut 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) of sugarcane per hour.